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Could flexible working be the key to perfect retention scores?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 26/09/16

Career prospects for hard working law graduates are looking increasingly optimistic with not only the number of training contracts on offer rising but also NQ pay continuing to soar.

According to figures published earlier this year by the Law Society, the number of training contracts on offer in 2015 reached 5,457 - 456 more than the year prior. Many city law firms recently boasted autumn retention rates upwards of 90%, likely, in part, due to the rising remuneration now on offer to newly qualified solicitors.

Freshfields announced it would be keeping on 95 per cent of its autumn qualifiers, with all but two of its 42 qualifying trainees accepting contracts to stay on - a sizable improvement on its spring retention rate of 82 per cent. Since its spring qualifiers were offered contracts, the magic circle firm has confirmed that its NQ lawyers would be taking home £85,000, a staggering 26 per cent more than in 2015. Fellow magic circle firm Linklaters, also boasted an impressive autumn retention rates of 91 per cent, with all 51 of its 55 qualifiers who applied for a position being offered a contract. Firms are constantly working to improve their retention rates, but how could they achieve perfect scores?

Although all law graduates applying for training contracts at city firms will be acutely aware of the long hours they will be expected to work during their training period, many will consider the culture of firm when looking to apply for permanent contracts. The legal profession has long had a focus on cash as compensation, but as the wider marketplace shifts towards more holistic remuneration packages, many will consider the other benefits on offer at firms.

Millennials, many of who will favour greater flexibility, are increasingly likely to asses a firm’s flexible working policy when considering making a permanent application. Mishcon de Reya, who recently boasted a perfect 100% autumn retention score, are one of a number of city firms who have implemented flexible working schemes – allowing lawyers to work anywhere they want and take unlimited holidays, as long as it doesn’t affect their clients.

A shift towards flexible working policies will likely be welcomed by new graduates, and could no doubt prove highly beneficial for firms too.

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