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Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft will not offer jobs to any of its City trainees due to qualify in March 2009.

The firm has told the intake that no-one will be offered a position with the firm on qualification.

The decision, which will affect three trainee solicitors, makes Cadwalader one of the first leading firms in the City to do this, as trainee retention rates have been high in recent years.

Cadwalader, which has had a 100% trainee retention rate over the last two-and-a-half years, blamed the move on worsening market conditions.

The firm will continue to recruit trainees.

Cadwalader has suffered a number of setbacks in the last 12 months following the collapse of the commercial mortgage-backed securities market – one of its traditional strongholds.

In January the firm laid off 35 associates across its US offices and in July made 96 redundancies, with 17 London-based staff affected.

There has been growing speculation in the market about the firm’s financial performance over the year, although partners within the firm last week denied claims that profits are set to fall by more than 50%.

Partners at the firm argued that the securities heavyweight has been hit no worse by the financial crisis than its main US competitors. Last year profits per equity partner fell by 6% to hit $2.72m (£1.82m).

The Manhattan firm is also in the process of overhauling its board with managing partner and former chairman Bob Link set to come off the management committee along with Charlotte head and real estate and securitisation partner Jim Carroll.

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