A training contract is the last stage to becoming a solicitor. It is a two-year training period that is completed after a qualifying law degree and the LPC; it takes place in a law firm or in-house at a large organisation. It is essentially an opportunity to engage with, and demonstrate to, the legal department and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) that you have gained the skills required to practice law. It is also an opportunity to get to know the firm that you could potentially be working in, understand the culture, and working lifestyle of a solicitor.

Law Training Contract Requirements For Law Students

To obtain a training contract, you need to have completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC). You can apply for a training contract in advance of completing the LPC as law firms usually recruit 2 years in advance. You can apply for a training contract from your penultimate year of study at University. Essentially, if you have a qualifying law degree, you are eligible for a training contract. Of course, good grades such as a 2:1 and extracurricular activities will always make you stand out from the crowd, potentially increasing your chances of obtaining a TC.

Law Training Contract Without Law Degree

There is no need for you to have completed an undergraduate degree in law, but a Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) is required if you studied another subject. This provides you with the same knowledge and skills as an undergraduate would have obtained in a law degree but in a shorter amount of time. The PGDL is usually taken over 1 or 2 years.

After the PGDL, you must complete the LPC, just as a student who studied an LLB would.

What Do Trainee Solicitors Do?

Training contracts ensure that the trainee is fully equipped to qualify as a solicitor after the 2 years they spend with the law firm. The tasks that they take on can vary depending on the department they are working in and the firm they are at.

However, usual tasks may include:

  • Due diligence
  • Legal research
  • Client interviews
  • Liaising with local counsel
  • Proofreading
  • Delivering presentation
  • Negotiating
  • Attending trials, hearings, and client events

Training contracts vary between firms. Some firms will organise their training as 4 times 6-month rotations of practice areas; others will suggest a 6 times 3 month rotation which provides a broader range of experience across teams in the firm. A large amount of your time should be spent researching the training regime of a firm you are applying to. This is as International corporate firms will likely focus on due diligence and financial seats whereas a national or regional firm may want the trainee to be more client-focused, looking at interview skills.

What Is A Law Secondment?

A legal secondment is where a solicitor temporarily joins an in-house legal team of an organisation to help with a specific project, provide legal expertise or simply assist with the daily operations, without becoming a permanent member of the organisation.

It is a chance to broaden your skillset, developing professionally whilst gaining a competitive advantage in your career. It is also an opportunity to work on exciting legal matters that your law firm may not be able to offer. The organisations that you can take a secondment will depend on the law firm your training contract is with; but in general, it is with large corporations such as investment banks or corporate clients.

Law Training Contract Seats

A seat in a training contract is essentially a code-name for a department in the firm. You will rotate through different seats, working with different teams to find the right specialism for you. The Solicitors Regulation Authority states that trainees must gain experience in at least 3 areas of law. Depending on the law firm, you may be required to undertake compulsory experience in, for example, the corporate seat in a corporate firm.

Usually, the HR department of a firm will get trainees to complete a form about the seats they would like to sit in, ranking them in order of preference as some seats will be more competitive than others. The most common seat in commercial firms is commercial litigation; seats also include employment, banking and finance, tax, restructuring and technology/media.

Professional Skills Course (PSC)

The PSC is the final stage of qualifying as a solicitor. You attend the course during the training contract. There are 3 core subjects:

  1. Financial and business skills
  2. Advocacy and communication skills
  3. Client care and professional standards.

You should also take elective modules as part of your qualification.

SQE And How It Is Going To Affect Training Contracts

The SQE is a standardised assessment to eventually replace the LPC. You are required to complete pre-qualification legal work experience, but it does not need to be in the form of a training contract. This can be paralegal work, a law apprenticeship or work placement.

By Emme Thomas