Clifford Chance launches business internship for future trainees

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New scheme will see vac scheme places reduced but additional open days introduced for penultimate-year students

Clifford Chance will reduce the number of places up for grabs on its highly competitive London vacation scheme as it moves away from “traditional hiring methods” to launch a new internship for future trainees.

The magic circle firm was unable to say at this point how many places would be trimmed from its two-week summer vac scheme programme, but did confirm that additional open days for penultimate-year students will be brought in. Clifford Chance will continue to offer 95 training contract places a year, the second highest of any firm in the UK.

The move is part of a shift in strategy that will see the firm launch an internship programme for London-based future trainees to brush up on their business acumen via a new internship.

The internship, Learning Internships for Future Trainees, or LIFT for short, will see future rookies spend up to two months next summer with a participating business and getting to grips with broader commercial skills including business development, marketing and product design, as well as more tech-focused competencies such as coding and data analytics.

The interns will receive a weekly salary of £450 — the same as students on the firm’s summer vac scheme programme.

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Laura Yeates, head of graduate talent at the firm, said:

“As the legal industry evolves, students are looking for new ways to differentiate themselves from their peers. They are looking for opportunities that will help them develop both personally and professionally, and allow them to have an immediate impact when starting their training contracts.”

CC ran a pilot over the last two years to gauge the suitability of the programme, funding and arranging placements for ten future trainees at companies including lawtech start-up Lexoo and cloud solutions provider Cloudreach.

The firm’s UK managing partner Michael Bates added: “We are always looking for smarter ways of delivering world-class legal services to our clients. Our trainees are integral to client work, so from the outset of this project we saw that this was an additional opportunity to invest in our future trainees.”

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You mean as it loses more marketshare to the US powerhouses


Stacking fat dolla at US firm

hmm been a lot of rumblings that CC are looking to cut the numbers of trainees they recruit because they can no longer afford to train people who then leave for the US shops after NQ. A move like this would definitely signal the start of this.



And yet nothing the scheme is for future trainees and nothing has been said to signal a cut in trainee numbers…

Interested to hear how an obvious university student has heard these “rumblings” from…



If trainees go out for £250/hour, and do 1800 billables a year, they bring in about £900k over their TC.

They get paid about £50k/year, plus perhaps a small bonus so £110k.

LPC is £15k. GDL the same? £30k total.

Grant is about £10k. Assume the same for GDL so £20k.

So total cash costs are less than £200k on an asset bringing in £900k. Unless other overheads are £700k I’m not sure how you think they aren’t turning a profit.

Hope this helps.



Wow, that’s so wrong I don’t even know where to start. Let’s not tell him, it’ll be hilarious 🙂



You what mate? Suggest you invest in a calculator…



This 2 month internship is nothing compared to what US law firms in America are doing. The always had 3 months of work in the summer. Clifford Chance are failures, just like their Roger and Wells acquisition, they have missed so many boats, why shoould this be any different when its full of holes.

There will be some animosity here between vac schemers doing things in 2 weeks versus those having to need 2 MONTHS! There will almost certainly be some stupid comment about how long it took you to prove yourself.


Someone with some common fucking sense

These people have already ‘proven themselves’ by getting a TC. The extra 2 months of LIFT is a bonus. It’s not part of the recruitment/assessment process. Take a look at my post below.



Can you really blame them though? I wasn’t in that category of students but at the end of the day, this way of thinking and acting happened for a reason.



Don’t know where to begin with this rambling nonsense


Job Centre

I’m concerned about how most of the commenters appear to struggle getting a job at McDonalds and take to LegalCheek.

You’re not getting a TC this way buds.



Fishbowl is much better than LC since it requires a professional adress to post.



Read: Clifford Chance has decided it wants to compete on profitability with US firms and so is slowly shifting away from hiring so many people that don’t generate revenue. To make it seem like they aren’t really doing this, they’re going for the “lawyers need to understand more about their client’s businesses! Muh commercial awareness!” thing to parcel some of their vac scheme cohort to second-rate clients where they can gently let them know they won’t be receiving a TC offer. But at least they get a 2-month internship with a presumably relatively well known company.

That’s my take anyway…


MC Trainee

It’s better for bottom-line profitability or PEP if you have a higher numbers of trainees or junior members billing work for the set number of partners. The article confirms they’re not reducing the 95 hires each year. There’s so much wrong with your comment, I don’t know where else to begin…



That’s not right – that’s just the MC model.

US firms have fewer juniors-to-partners and are more profitable and have higher PEP.



I highly doubt you’re a MC trainee. Very obviously, US firms have a higher number of partners to juniors. They are more profitable.

If legal billing were simply adding trainees to a matter and charging them out then all law firms would have 1000 trainees. The reality is that clients don’t pay law firms that way. There’s a point of diminishing returns, which – speaking to the point of my comment – is why reducing these numbers is on CC’s agenda.

These comments sometimes…


MC Trainee

There’s dozens of factors determining overall profitability. The ratios of fee earners to partners is just one of them. The comment above talks about how a reduction in trainees and junior members increases profitability. All I did was point out that it is the opposite. You can read up about leverage for yourself.

Nobody has mentioned law firms “adding 1,000 trainees.” I don’t see why you’re putting words in someone else’s mouth.

When you can find and share any evidence of any UK city firm planning a significant cut in trainee numbers, then you can respond again in the comments.



Correct, there are lots of factors that influence profitability, but you said it was to do with firms having a higher ratio of juniors to partners.

That is incorrect.

If you are a MC trainee, then I understand that might be what your firm has told you, but it’s not true.

Try to figure out why you are paid less than a trainee at a good US firm (with fewer juniors…).

MC Trainee

Thanks Gertrude.

There’s lots of factors which influence profitability and one of those factors is the junior/partner ratio. The junior/partner ratio is not the only factor. Please point out where my comments state the contrary. Then please work on your comprehension skills. If your only line of argument is deliberately misreading my posts, then I give up.

I’m well aware of how the market works. I’ve worked at five law firms. I’ve colleagues across the city. I will interview at other law firms to gauge the market on qualification. Salary and profitability is not everything. Some law firms sacrifice everything for headline profitability but it does not necessarily make it a pleasant place to work. My law firm recognizes that some work pays less but is nonetheless good to specialise in. When we act for the governments of African jurisdictions, it is not profitable. When we advise the government on Brexit negotiations, it is not profitable. When we write thought-leadership pieces on international tax policy and current affairs, it is not profitable. Profit is not everything and I feel sorry for trainees that only work on high-profit but repetitive work.

In response to your personal attach, I admit I am paid less than other US firms. I am also paid more than other firms (including some US firms). Lawyers overall are also paid less than bankers. Is the work I do nonetheless highly interesting and fulfilling, regardless of what I’m paid? Yes it is. Despite what other lawyers are paid, am I paid enough to nonetheless afford to live in London and save up a significant amount of my income? Yes I am. I don’t understand why you have to attack someone’s salary on LegalCheek to get your point across. The obsession with salary and your personal attacks using your internet anonymity on this website are frankly really childish.


This is not a new way of recruiting, it’s for people already signed dup to the TC. Reading comprehension: need improvement.


Angus, Exeter University LL.B.

Why is Clifford Chance less profitable than US firms anyway – and is that even true? SPB is a US firm and is less profitable than CC.



I hope this is a joke.



Reducing vac scheme numbers and making SPARK the main way of recruiting for TCs… slightly unconventional?


Olivier Altmeyer

Paralegal role – bants.
Training contract – bants and beers.
Qualifying as a solicitor – time to focus and achieve my goal of a long successful legal career.


Stop deleting my posts they're doing a better job at educating the public than anything LC has ever done

Sign… it’s clear that most of the posters in this comments section don’t have a TC, let alone at a firm like CC.

Here’s a better explanation of the scheme:

The upshot is that this is a VOLUNTARY scheme for FUTURE trainees. It is not a secondment-style scheme for current trainees. Nor is it part of the firm’s assessment/recruitment process in the same way that e.g. a vacation scheme would be.

Clifford Chance can get away with shrinking its vac scheme because the firm – in a similar style to A&O – uses the assessment centre as the main TC application filter. The vac scheme is marketing + a way to weed out the odd person who gives off the impression that they are REALLY disinterested.

But why reduce the number of vac scheme places?

Re why vac schemes don’t matter: My guess is that CC – as have many other firms – has found that the vac scheme doesn’t really allow for a good comparison between candidates. Candidate ‘performance’ on vac schemes largely comes down to luck (in the form of a heavy/light workload, a generous or strict supervisor, etc.). And the additional vacation scheme assessments that other firms use (e.g. a presentation, a case study with a partner, etc) have clearly been found to be redundant or capable of being integrated into another stage of the recruitment process.

On the positive side, the firm would presumably prefer to invest its vac schemer salaries + grad rec time/effort into things that actually benefit those who plan on actually JOINING the firm (as in, the future trainees who have ACCEPTED a TC, not the vac schemers who may well accept another offer). Given that these people are the firm’s future, it makes sense to get them involved in more of the legaltech/in-house gimmickry from an earlier stage in their career. The alternative would be for them to waste an entire seat on these during their PRT or have to wait until a full secondment opportunity arises at associate level.


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