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Graduate FAQs

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Application process

All applications should be submitted through our application portal. Click apply now for all available opportunities.

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

We accept all degree disciplines, from any university. Extenuating circumstances are taken into consideration through our screening process.

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

If your academics fall below our criteria and you have extenuating circumstances, include these in the extenuating circumstances box within your application and they will be taken into consideration. You may be asked to produce supporting evidence.

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.

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

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. When writing your application, make sure you link your experiences to the types of skills we look for. See our website for more information on what skills make a great lawyer.

Yes. We encourage you to include detail about your extracurricular activities and any part-time jobs you have had. Including these in your application is a great way to show skills of time management, flexibility, organisation and other competencies we look for.

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 of your experiences at other firms and other non-law organisations.

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

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

Please email the team at ukgraduates@freshfields.com and we will be very happy to discuss this with you.

When attending events or interviews in the London office we will reimburse expenses for those travelling within England and Wales up to a maximum value of £100. Candidates travelling within Europe, including from Scotland and Ireland, will be reimbursed up to a maximum value of £150 for the cost of public transport. Candidates from a less socially mobile backgrounds can also apply for an additional bursary.

For candidates who require a flight to attend, please contact our team first to discuss your options. We aim to limit the environmental impact of travel and can offer video conference interviews or from other offices. We cannot reimburse for flights that have not been agreed beforehand. We also cannot reimburse for taxis or cost of petrol but if you are unable to easily access public transport, please contact the team to discuss your travel arrangements. If you think your expenses are going to exceed this or if you are going to require overnight accommodation due to the distance you will be travelling, please contact the graduate recruitment team prior to booking on +44 20 7785 5554. We will cover up to a maximum value of £70 for accommodation.

If you are visiting the office, please email ukgraduates@freshfields.com for an expenses claim form. You will also need to provide copies of your receipts.

Trainee associate programme

We aim to engage with a wide variety of universities throughout the year and attend law and career fairs and hosted panel presentations. We have also been attending a number of virtual law fairs.

Check out our What's Happening page for upcoming events and how to register.

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

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.

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.

No. You’re still considered a non-law applicant until you have completed your PGDL in its entirety. Please submit an application in the winter application window. Once you have completed the PGDL you’re able to apply in the summer window.

Our eight-seat trainee associate programme is unique. Trainees move every three months at Freshfields and you can request where you go for each seat move (which includes staying at the seat you’re already in or moving back to a seat you’ve been in). The core seats practice groups you’ll experience during your training are dispute resolution and global transactions (which includes corporate, finance and real estate).

You will be required to undertake three compulsory seats, one in dispute resolution and two in global transactions (which includes corporate, finance and real estate). You can request which sub-teams within these department you wish to sit in and you will move seats every three months. Other departments you can choose throughout your trainee associate programme are; antitrust, competition and trade; people and reward; tax and IP/IT.

You will receive on-the-job training from your supervisor/s and from other members of your department team. You’ll be guided through the trainee associate programme by our dedicated trainee development team, as well as having support from trainee-intake partners and trainee-solicitor partners. The trainee development team will also provide a structured training programme for you, including a two-week induction to the firm when you join.

As a trainee, you can apply for a six-month secondment to take place during the last two seats (six months) of the trainee associate programme. Your secondment can either be to one of our network of 29 global offices (including Silicon Valley, New York, Hong Kong and Dubai) or to one of our clients (including the Bank of England, Goldman Sachs or one of our many pro bono clients).

Upon qualification, you will be invited to submit an application for qualification at the firm. There is no interview process and you can apply for as many opportunities as you wish. When applying for qualification, you will identify what seats you have enjoyed during your training contract and submit your qualification preferences to the trainee development team.

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 to start in 2025, and you have not yet completed these courses, we will provide funding.

The only restriction we have is that 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.

No, you should only apply for either the London-Asia training contract or the London-based trainee associate programme. This should be determined by where you’d like to practise when you qualify. If you undertake 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 will spend your first year in London and your second year in Hong Kong. After the two-year training contract, you’ll qualify with one of our offices in Asia as an England-and-Wales-qualified solicitor.

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.

You are not eligible to apply for the spring scheme as this opportunity is for first-year students only. You could apply for the vacation scheme in the third year of your course.

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

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

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.

More information on the SQE.

Our prospective trainees will start the City Consortium Solicitors Training Programme (CCP) to prepare for the SQE assessments in September 2022 (a year after the introduction of the SQE assessment by the SRA). Trainees joining the firm in the August 2023 intake will be the first SQE cohort.

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

The City Consortium is made up of Freshfields and five other leading City law firms.

All these firms believe that it is essential 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.

Students enjoy working alongside others who will be joining their firm but also value developing a wider network of peers with like-minded career aspirations, which they can take with them into practice.

The bespoke Plus Programme will also help students develop their legal knowledge, skills and behaviours to make them practice-ready.

CCP is short for the City Consortium Solicitor Training Programme and is comprised of the:

  • SQE 1 Preparation Programme;
  • City Consortium Plus Programme; and
  • SQE 2 Test Preparation.

The CCP prepares you for sitting the new external, high-stakes and challenging SQE assessments, and enables you to flourish as a trainee in our leading City practice. There is also an option available for students to study towards a Master’s qualification.

The City Consortium Solicitor Training Programme (CCP) must be studied from BPP’s Holborn law school.

The City Consortium Solicitor Training Programme (CCP) covers the following: 

  • SQE 1 Preparation Programme – business law and practice; dispute resolution; contract law and tort law; the legal system of England and Wales; property practice; wills and the administration of estates; criminal law and practice; and solicitors’ accounts
  • City Consortium Plus Programme – debt finance; equity finance; private acquisitions; commercial dispute resolution; and business, innovation and technology in law
  • SQE 2 Test Preparation – client interviewing; attendance note/legal analysis; advocacy; case and matter analysis; and legal research, writing and drafting

The City Consortium Solicitor Training Programme (CCP) is delivered over 11 months.

As a future Freshfields trainee on the CCP, we cover all of your course and exam fees and supply you with a maintenance grant of £20,000 to assist with your living costs while you study for the SQE.

QWE will replace the current period of recognised training, referred to as the training contract, as the work-based learning element of the route to qualification. Freshfields will continue to retain the two-year period of training (via the trainee associate programme) as its form of QWE.

Students who join the firm’s first cohort for the CCP in September 2023 will start their QWE at the firm from August 2024.

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 Foundations Course (PGDL) at BPP prior to starting on the CCP to ensure all students have the necessary foundational legal knowledge.

Working at Freshfields

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.

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

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

     Apply now