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Early careers


Find comprehensive answers to your queries below, including work experience, skills we look for and eligibility for our trainee associate programme and vacation schemes. There’s also information on financial support, applying if you have disabilities and life at Freshfields.



The application process

Our dedicated application process page has information and tips on the application process, including writing your personal statement, the half-day assessment and the general and analytical interviews. The application process for both the associate training programme and vacation schemes is the same.

Do you look at applications on a rolling basis?

No. We review all applications before making our final decisions. Check our deadlines carefully as applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Are there any degree requirements?

We accept all degree disciplines, from any university.

What if I require reasonable adjustments?

Freshfields is committed to being a disability-inclusive employer. We partner with Business Disability Forum and Myplus Consulting to attract, retain, and progress disabled talent. We offer adjustments and support during the recruitment process, such as additional time, so all applicants can show their full potential. Please let us know as soon as you can if you want us to make any adjustments by sending an email to our early careers team. All conversations are confidential. For more on our support, view our diversity and inclusion page.

Do I need a 2:1 in every module?

We look for applicants who are on track for or have gained a 2:1 overall at undergraduate level. You do not need to have a 2:1 in every module to apply.

Can I still apply if I have a 2:2?

If your academics fall below our criteria and you have extenuating circumstances, include these in the mitigating circumstances box within your application and they will be taken into consideration.

Do you require minimum A level grades?

We do not have any minimum A level requirements and we don’t assess GCSE grades.

I don’t have any legal work experience. Is it worth still applying?

All work experience is relevant and valuable to your application. We ask you to include all your past work experience in your application, including open days, focus events and workshops at other firms. We do not reject applications for having no legal work experience.

Should I include open days at other firms?

Yes. We like to see you have a wide breadth of experience in the graduate legal field and beyond, so we encourage you to include all your experiences at other firms and other non-law organisations.

Should I mention my extracurricular/part-time job?

Yes. We encourage you to include detail about extracurricular activities and any part-time jobs to show skills of time management, flexibility, organisation and other competencies we look for.

What skills do you look for?

We look for many skills including determination, enthusiasm, time management, flexibility, attention to detail, an interest in business, willingness to work as a team, and resilience. Ensure you link your experiences to the types of skills we look for. Look over our website and check out our social media channels for an idea of what makes a great lawyer.

What if I have mitigating circumstances?

Any mitigating circumstances can be explained in the mitigating circumstances box on our application form.

Do you accept applications from candidates who are not eligible to work in the UK and who require sponsorship?

Yes. We accept applications from candidates requiring a work permit and we will sponsor your visa during the trainee associate programme.

What financial support is available?

We seek to cover any reasonable travel expenses for those attending events or interviews in our London office. Enquire here.

Socially mobile candidates can apply for an additional bursary to attend the vacation scheme. Enquire here.

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Trainee associate programme

How many trainees do you take on each year?

We recruit up to 100 trainees per year across two intakes: spring and autumn.

Is it worth applying directly for the trainee associate programme?

If you are final year or above, you’re eligible to apply directly for our trainee associate programme. There’s no advantage in applying for a vacation scheme over a place on the trainee associate programme and approximately half our trainee intakes come from direct trainee associate programme applicants. You don’t need to have completed a vacation scheme in order to secure a place on the trainee associate programme.

I am currently taking the PGDL. Can I apply in the summer window with law students and graduates? 

PGDL students are now able to apply whilst studying: please submit an application in the summer window.

Do you pay fees for PGDL and SQE?

If you accept a place on the trainee associate programme with us after you have completed either of these courses, we may be able to provide some reimbursement of your tuition fees on a discretionary basis. If you’re offered a place on the trainee associate programme with us and you have not yet completed these courses, we will provide funding.

Is there a limit to the number of times I can apply for a place on the trainee associate programme?

You can only apply once per academic year: if you apply during the winter application window, you cannot apply again during the summer application window.

I am fluent in English and I am a native speaker of an Asian language. Can I apply for both the London-Asia training contract and the London-based trainee associate programme?

No, you should only apply for either the London-Asia training contract or the London-based trainee associate programme.

Your decision should be determined by where you’d like to practise when you qualify. For our London-based trainee associate programme, you’ll train in London with the option of doing a secondment (either at one of our other offices or with a client) with a view to securing an NQ associate role in London. On the London-Asia training contract, you’ll spend your first year in London and your second year in Hong Kong. After the two-year trainee associate programme, you’ll qualify with one of our offices in Asia as an England-and-Wales-qualified solicitor.

I am a foreign-qualified solicitor. What is the process for me?

If you have been qualified in your jurisdiction for under four years, you would be eligible to apply for our trainee associate programme in the usual way. If you have more than four years’ qualification, you can apply to Freshfields via an open vacancy on our general careers page.

How does the eight-seat trainee associate programme work?

Please take a look at our dedicated unique eight-seat associate programme page for detailed information.

How do I find out about Freshfields events on campus?

We aim to engage with a wide variety of universities throughout the year, attending law and career fairs and hosted panel presentations, as well as a number of virtual law fairs.

Check out our Events page  for upcoming university career fairs, Freshfields office events and how to register. 

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Vacation scheme

I’m in my second year of a Masters. Can I apply for a vacation scheme?

Unfortunately, you’re not eligible as our vacation scheme is for penultimate-year undergraduates only. You would be eligible to apply directly for our trainee associate programme or graduate workshop.

I’m in my second year of a four-year course and I want to apply for a vacation scheme in my third year. Can I apply for Freshfields First Years in my second year?

You are not eligible to apply for Freshfields First Years as this opportunity is for first-year students only. You could apply for the vacation scheme in your second or third year, or the penultimate year of your course.

I’m on a four-year course. What can I apply for and when can I apply for a vacation scheme?

You are eligible to apply for our vacation scheme in your second or third year of study, or your penultimate year.

I’m on a two-year course. What can I apply for and when can I apply for a vacation scheme?

You can apply for a direct trainee associate programme at any stage if you are in your second course or a post grad. If you are studying your first degree, you can apply for our vacation scheme in your first year, and the trainee associate programme your second year.

I’m an international applicant. Can I apply for the vacation scheme?

You must have the right to work in the UK to be eligible for our vacation scheme.

How would I be assessed during the vacation scheme?

Our vacation scheme has three assessment areas. The first is a research task, which you’ll work on with your partner supervisor. The second is the feedback from your associate supervisor, who will assess how you have worked in the team during your three weeks. The third assessment area is your end-of-scheme one-hour interview, typically with a partner and an associate at the firm. All of these assessments determine whether you’ll be offered a place on the trainee associate programme at the end of your vacation scheme.

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Qualifying as a solicitor

What is the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) launched the SQE in September 2021 as the new qualification path for aspiring solicitors. The SQE has replaced the LPC.

There will be two centralised assessments for students to pass: SQE1 tests functional legal knowledge; and SQE2 assesses written and oral legal skills. The assessments will be set and marked by Kaplan, the assessment organisation appointed by the SRA.

View more information on the SQE.

How is my career at Freshfields affected by the SRA’s introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)?

Our prospective trainees will start the City Consortium Solicitors Training Programme (CCP) to prepare for the SQE assessments.

All Freshfields trainees will receive clear and comprehensive guidance through every stage of their training.

What is the City Consortium?

The City Consortium is made up of Freshfields and five other leading City law firms to invest in rigorous and comprehensive technical and skills training. Their collaboration has led to the development of BPP’s market-leading SQE programmes, which are engaging and relevant to current City practice. This PDF from BPP University Law School has more info and you can read about the CCP on our associate trainee programme page

Do non-law graduates still need to complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL)?

Although it’s no longer a regulatory requirement by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Freshfields’ non-law prospective trainees will still be required to study the Law Conversion Course (PGDL) at BPP prior to starting on the CCP to ensure all students have the necessary foundational legal knowledge.

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Life at Freshfields

What is Freshfields’ policy on agile working?

Colleagues in our London office are permitted to work remotely up to two days per week provided that the arrangements take account of client and business commitments. Trainees may choose to spend more of their time in the office to support their learning. Trainees also benefit from dual supervision, with two supervisors in each team to support them.

How will I be supported while agile working?

Trainees are allocated two supervisors to ensure enhanced support and guidance to trainees, in addition to other hybrid working tools and practices.

Where can I work when working remotely?

We expect you to work from your home, within the UK. 

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Get in touch with our early careers team