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Clifford Chance is offering training contracts to ‘exceptional’ 18-year-olds

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But fresh-faced law students have until third year to accept

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Magic circle giant Clifford Chance is offering training contract positions to “exceptional” law students as young as 18-years-old, Legal Cheek has learnt.

As part of the firm’s first year work experience scheme, top performing students — who are often fresh out of college — are being handed training contracts.

On the scheme, what Clifford Chance describes as “exceptional first year students” will spend five days completing classroom-based tasks and shadowing some of the outfit’s leading legal minds. Those who perform well will be invited back to the firm at a later date to complete a training contract assessment day.

Despite being just several months into their undergraduate law degrees, it’s at this stage students who have impressed the firm’s recruiters and lawyers are offered training contracts.

However — seemingly acknowledging this is a huge decision to make at such an early age — a spokesperson for Clifford Chance revealed to Legal Cheek:

For any offers that are made, we give the students until 15 September of their final year of study to decide if they will accept.

This gives students a few years to mull over the offer, one which — if accepted — includes a trainee starting salary of £43,500, rising to £85,000 upon qualification. Not a bad position to be in at just 18.

Most City law firms operate similar work experience programmes for first year students. But, unlike Clifford Chance, Legal Cheek understands these usually lead to a summer vacation scheme offer and not a training contact.

The radical recruitment move comes almost two years after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) revealed it had ditched the “code of good practice in the recruitment of trainee solicitors”. Prior to the decision, law firms were unable to make training contract offers before 1 September in the student’s final year of undergraduate study.

Code now abandoned, law firms can offer training contracts at any stage. Even 18-year-olds who have yet to discover the joys of Donoghue v Stevenson.