HSF expands Belfast trainee solicitor programme

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By Aishah Hussain on


Six trainees to start in September 2023 as firm looks to recruit externally for first time


Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has expanded its trainee solicitor programme in Belfast by offering positions to external candidates for the first time.

The firm this week confirmed it’s recruiting six trainees to join its Alternative Legal Services (ALT) Trainee Solicitor Programme from next year. It expects the intake to be split evenly between internal and external hires, but this is subject to the quality of applications received.

The Belfast office launched TC opportunities to internal candidates in 2012 and, to date, has supported 33 Belfast-based candidates to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales. It typically hires three trainees a year but this year made four offers internally.

“We are extremely proud to launch our refreshed ALT Belfast Trainee Solicitor Programme,” said Lisa McLaughlin, managing partner for the Belfast office. “We welcome candidates who have a desire to be part of a firm that is at the forefront of the future of law — combining cutting-edge technology with expert legal talent. We want to ensure that we continue to recruit candidates with diverse interests and experience, and that we continue to attract top talent to drive the ongoing success of both ALT and the wider firm.”

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The programme comprises four seat rotations in the Belfast office, covering practice areas such as construction, corporate, disputes, employment, finance and banking, funds and real estate, with trainees also offered the opportunity to complete a seat in the firm’s London office.

They will complete the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) on a part-time basis during their second, third and fourth seats, and on completion of the programme, will become England and Wales-qualified solicitors.

The programme is open for applications from final year law students and law graduates until 18 October 2022.

HSF’s ALT practice opened in Belfast in 2011 and offers technology-led solutions for document and data-intensive legal work. The team has since grown tenfold, from 19 to over 200 staff members, spanning ten hubs across the UK, US, South Africa, China and Australia.

Quite a few global law firms offer training contracts in Belfast, including Fieldfisher (as of last month), Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie and Shoosmiths. US law firm Ogletree Deakins, meanwhile, launched a support hub in the Northern Irish capital last September, mainly targeting graduates to fill the 78 newly-created roles.

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