1st year (and 2nd year of 4 year degree)
- Commercial law firms tend to offer insight days for 1st year students (a select few offer 2 day or week-long experiences), although some also offer open days for students at any stage in their education (including graduates).
- These can give you a feel for what the job involves, but involve little (if any) real responsibility.
Penultimate year & finalists
- Many firms then offer longer (2-4 week) internships. These tend to take place during the Christmas, Easter and/or summer holidays and may cater to different candidates. For instance, there may be specific internships that cater to Law/non-Law candidates, or candidates undertaking a particular year of study. Some firms also offer full internships for students in their 2nd year of a 4 year degree or graduates.
- Longer internships usually involve candidates undertaking real work whilst sitting in one (or more) divisions. Candidates may also be expected to undertake additional assessments, including a final interview towards the end of the internship.
- Note that pre-2015, firms were unable to offer (2 year) training contracts to students in their penultimate year of study. Now firms can (and many do) make training contract offers to penultimate year students, regardless of their degree discipline. Once an offer is made, it must remain valid until at least 15th September in the applicant's final year of undergraduate study, or for at least 4 weeks from the date the offer is made (whichever is later).
- Final-year students and graduates may be made an offer at any time and will have four weeks to respond (unless the required start date is less than 4 weeks away).
- Here is a link to the Voluntary Code of Recruitment for Trainee Solicitors. It is worth a read as it sets out various obligations for both prospective employers and students: http://www.agr.org.uk/write/Documents/Voluntary_Code_of_Recruitment_for_Trainee_Solicitors.pdf
- If you receive a job offer, you will then have to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) followed by a two-year training contract before you become a qualified solicitor. Note that non-Law students will also have to complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before embarking upon the LPC. Firms typically fund the GDL/LPC and give you a grant whilst you are studying. You will be paid a salary whilst undertaking the training contract.