What you need to know before you apply for a training contract

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The application deadlines are looming

Forget Glastonbury and Wimbledon, as any self-respecting law student knows the real event of the summer is the July training contract application deadline.

The winners of this Hunger Games-style process will emerge with TC offers in their back pockets, and, because of big law firms’ penchant for recruiting two years in advance, plenty of time to enjoy life guilt-free and safe in the knowledge that they have a well-paid job waiting for them.

As for the losers… well, they have to go through the whole vac scheme and TC application process again in the autumn.

To position yourself in the former category requires students to put the hours in now, by thoroughly researching firms so that they know which ones suit them best. Then they need to submit carefully-tailored applications.

A good place to start is the famous Legal Cheek Firms Most List. All the top firms are in there, with a profile for each containing the independent, cheeky and very thoroughly researched The Legal Cheek View. Each one is based on our journalists’ insider contacts within the firms, years of experience covering the legal sector and, perhaps most importantly, the results from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey of over 1,500 corporate law rookies.

The firm profiles also contain a scorecard ranking firms from A* to E on their training, quality of work, peer supportiveness, partner approachability, work/life balance and chances of secondment abroad. There are further scorecard grades for lighter areas such as office and workspace, canteen, perks and social life, alongside average arrive and leave the office times.

During the autumn, we published a series of articles about the firms which did best in each scorecard category. They can be found below:

The best law firms to train with in Britain
The law firms that give trainees and junior lawyers the best quality of work
The law firms with the friendliest trainees in Britain
The law firms with the most approachable partners in Britain
The best law firms for work/life balance
The firms that offer the most international secondments
The best corporate law firm perks in London
The fanciest law firm offices in Britain
The law firms with the best canteens
The law firms with the best social life
The law firms that trainees and junior lawyers most admire
The shortlist for the Trainee and Junior Lawyer Firm of the Year 2017
Revealed: Top law firms average arrive and leave the office times

The winner of each category was announced at the Legal Cheek Awards in March. A full listing of the results can be found here.

More detail about the experience of working at the leading firms can be found in our careers editorial section, where there are profiles of a host of lawyers of varying level of seniority — from trainee to partner.

Finally, don’t forget our events. We have two big ones coming up in July — one in London on 6 July and the other in Birmingham on 12 July. Both feature lawyers from leading firms, including Pinsent Masons, Mayer Brown, Hogan Lovells and Herbert Smith Freehills, and are geared to boosting students’ commercial awareness ahead of the training contract application deadline. They are also totally free. Apply to attend our London event here and our Birmingham event here.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub.


Third seat trainee, US firm

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.



Was there any point of this “article” other than self-publicity?



The best way to get a TC is to make sure you get born to professional parents who know people.



“A good place to start is the famous Legal Cheek Firms Most List”





“A good place to start is the famous Legal Cheek Firms Most List.”

Famous for being incomplete, out of date and completely partisan towards your sponsoring firms?



“A good place to start is the famous Legal Cheek Firms Most List”


By the way why are we all doing this?



“A good place to start is the famous Legal Cheek Firms Most List”


Sir Geffroy De Joinville

1. As any self respecting law student knows, training contracts are offered to those of distinction. One simply does not apply for a TC.

2. I suppose a TC could feasibly fit into one’s back pocket, but until this moment in life, the thought never crossed my mind. Merci beaucoup LC.

3. Why do those who have no knowledge of the profession give out such advice ridicule? N’y a-t-il pas de régulateur pour ce genre de chose?



last thing you wanna do is to follow a list. go attend firm events e.g. open days, vac schemes, even booths at a career fair. talk to the people there and figure out if you actually like culture or the type of people they recruit at firm. at the trainee level the salary differences are negligible and there’s no point going somewhere because their office looks nice then hate it for 2 years.

of course if you haven’t had the chance for vac schemes or had minimal experiences, go for the brands you trust. worst case scenario suck it up for 2 years then go somewhere you like.


JD Partner

“suck it up for 2 years” is what I tell all my trainees to do.



Not sure about the booths at careers fairs – had one member of a SC grad rec team tell me that their firm stood out because they were giving away the best pens…


Jones Day HR

A few mistakes there. It was Jones Day, and you missed the “i” before the “s” in your last word.



evidently they are not the firm to be applying to then



Stop this Hunger Games-style analogy now please.



And remember, if you cock it up you’re stuck at a rubbish firm forever. Capische?



Uh, not true?

Quit spreading fake news you dong.



Just don’t be a flannel – easy to get a MC TC… unless you’re a beta of course..



There are some awful people on this website.






It’s July. The top candidates applied ages ago.


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