City law firms pay graduates to defer starting work for a year

City law firms are paying graduates thousands of pounds to defer starting work for a year to balance recruitment and the talent pipeline.

Some recruits are being offered up to £10,000 to delay starting their training contracts.

Norton Rose has asked 55 trainees to postpone commencing work at the firm as long as they do something “meaningful and constructive” with their 12 months off.

Other firms, including DLA Piper, Baker & McKenzie, and Penningtons, are offering trainees at least £5,000 to defer, even if it means the recruits work for other law firms as paralegals during that time.

Andrea Law, training and graduate recruitment manager at Penningtons, said more than one-third of the 2009 recruitment class had accepted the offer, and that it would be left open for the foreseeable future.

“It’s completely voluntary, and still four of our 11 recruits for 2009 have accepted, which is good news,” she told Personnel Today.

“We’re hoping they’ll travel or work and gain interpersonal and business skills, although the fact we’ve already chosen them shows they are ready to join us.”

Trainees in London earn up to £30,000 per year on a 24-month contract.

“This way we can ensure we offer a really good opportunity work for trainees so they don’t all start at same time,” Law added. “By deferring a year, hopefully the economy will pick up and we’ll be able to keep them on.”

Another law firm, Herbert Smith, has asked 79 of its trainees to push back their start date from September to March next year, and will also pay more than £5,000.

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