Big Four accountancy giant EY launches law training contract — and you don’t need a 2:1 or top A-levels to apply

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By Alex Aldridge on

Applicants to be selected via online tests


Accountancy and professional services giant EY has launched a training contract for wannabe solicitors — with no minimum educational requirements.

EY opened applications this week for eight TCs for which candidates are not required to have a 2:1 or even three Bs at A-level.

Instead the firm is inviting anyone who wants to be a lawyer to apply and is assessing them via a series of online tests which EY describes as:

A new and enhanced suite of online ‘strengths’ assessments and numerical tests which are designed to assess the potential of applicants.

That numerical element may concern law students, who are traditionally awful with numbers. But the chance for people who’ve messed up their A-levels and degrees to become a solicitor with one of the world’s biggest firms means that there will doubtlessly be plenty of applicants.

Hopefuls shouldn’t hang around, though. While most law firms’ training contract deadlines aren’t until summer next year, EY is closing its applications at the end of this month — with its deadline on Monday 30 November. Interviews and assessment centres take place in December.

Those who bag the positions will be able to start earlier than trainees at big City law firms, with four commencing their EY TCs in September 2016. The other four will follow the traditional law firm two-years-in-advance schedule and begin in September 2017. They will earn £39,000 in their first year and £44,000 in their second year.

EY will cover the cost of successful applicants’ Graduate Diploma of Law and Legal Practice Course fees — if they haven’t completed these courses already — plus provide a maintenance grant of between £6,000 and £,7000 to cover living expenses.

EY is not disclosing information about pay when the trainees qualify. But it has made explicit one upside its trainees will enjoy — unlike at law firms, they won’t have to apply to be taken on full-time at the end of their training contracts, instead automatically becoming associates in the UK legal team.

The new recruits will be able to do seats in corporate, commercial, employment, financial services and tax — so none of the high end banking & finance areas that trainees experience at top law firms.

But the work is likely to be of a mid-tier City law firm level, and EY says trainees “may have the opportunity” to do an international secondment. With the global behemoth boasting a terrifyingly vast network of 700 offices across 150 different countries, they will have plenty of options to choose from.

EY received its alternative business structure (ABS) license last December and has already built a UK legal services team containing 50 lawyers. The plan is to grow by 25% over the next 12 months — hence the need for the graduates — and expand to 150 by 2020.

Reflecting on the news, EY UK legal team chief Philip Goodstone commented:

We have big ambitions for the growth of the team and a training contract programme will allow us to develop and nurture top talent in house. Our trainees will gain experience in the full spectrum of EY’s legal services, but will also benefit from working side-by-side with colleagues from across EY in our tax, assurance, corporate finance and advisory practice. We will offer our trainees a fantastic opportunity to gain a rounded view of the business world, in addition to honing their legal skills.

Goodstone also gave some details about the sort of students he is after, explaining:

What we’re really looking for are graduates who are personable, practical, technical and flexible — people who have a positive mind set and a pro-active approach. We want people who will embrace change and want to be at the forefront of developing a new, multi-service legal business in the UK and globally.

The truly “CV Blind” recruitment process operated by EY came into force in August following a similar move by Big Four rival PwC — and applies across EY’s graduate roles, not just the law ones.