Working for GLS
Information regarding career development, flexible working, salaries and training opportunities within the GLS.
Qualified lawyer opportunities
To be notified as soon as vacancies in GLS legal teams are announced, you can add your contact details to our mailing list.
Departments fill vacancies when there are gaps in their legal capacity that cannot be filled from the existing Government Legal Service (GLS) population.
GLS qualified lawyer posts are open to barristers, solicitors and chartered legal executives who meet our professional qualifications criteria. The level of entry into the GLS is dependent on your level of experience and the role on offer. You will be provided with salary and grade information as part of the vacancy application pack.
The GLS competency framework sets out the skills applicants will be expected to demonstrate throughout the recruitment process.
The GLS is an equal opportunities employer.
To be eligible to apply for a qualified lawyer post within the GLS, you must ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria stated in departments’ vacancy application packs. The four main areas are:
- professional qualifications
- academic qualifications
- immigration status
You must be (or about to become) qualified to practise as a barrister, chartered legal executive or solicitor in England and Wales.
If you are a barrister, you must have successfully completed your 1 year pupillage or have been exempted from this by the Bar Council.
If you qualified outside England and Wales you will be required to complete the Bar Transfer Test.
If you are solicitor, you must have completed your training contract or have been exempted from this by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
If you qualified outside England and Wales, you will be required to complete the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme.
Chartered Legal Executives
If you are a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) you will be eligible to apply if you either:
- hold a qualifying law degree or
- have completed the Graduate Diploma in Law or Common Professional Examination or
- have passed exams (i.e. achieved 50% or above) in all seven of the foundation subjects in law taken at CILEx Level 6
The foundation subjects in law are:
- contract law
- criminal law
- equity and trusts law
- European Union law
- land law
- public law
- law of tort
All applicants will need to meet the following requirements:
- you should have a minimum of a 2:1 degree in any subject
- if you have a lower degree classification or do not hold a degree, some departments may consider your application where you can demonstrate equivalent high level academic and/or professional achievement
- chartered legal executives should note that, where a department is willing to consider applications from candidates who do not meet the minimum 2.1 degree criterion, an overall average score of 65% across exams passed in the seven foundation subjects in law (where studied at CILEx Level 6) will be accepted as demonstrating 2.1 degree equivalence
The GLS is part of the civil service and its nationality rules apply to all our recruitment campaigns.
We accept applications from:
- UK nationals
- European Economic Area (EEA) nationals
- Swiss nationals and, in some circumstances, Turkish nationals
- Commonwealth citizens
If you have dual nationality, with one part being British, you may apply.
In addition to meeting these nationality requirements, you must also be legally entitled to work in the UK.
If you are a national from a country outside the EEA or Switzerland, you may need a visa to work in the UK. You can check whether you need a UK visa on the UK Visas and Immigration website.
There are over 2,000 lawyers working for a large number of government organisations, on a wide range of legal work.The businesses are different and people have different career aspirations, so there isn’t a single GLS career model.
Lawyers work with their legal managers to develop their own career path. GLS lawyers aren’t expected to specialise in one area of law or practice for their entire careers. We never assume that, because a lawyer has specialised in a particular field, they won’t have the capacity to take on a new challenge. Lawyers are encouraged to develop transferable skills which they can apply to the variety of legal work on offer.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t value specialists. We recognise that, while some prefer variety, others prefer to establish a career in a particular field. Both choices can be accommodated.
GLS legal teams’ primary duty is to provide their government organisation with an effective service and make sure that their business needs continue to be met. Many organisations have clear policies surrounding the amount of time they expect lawyers to remain in a particular post. This is usually between 3 and 4 years. After this time, lawyers considering a move are advised to work with their managers and consider what their next post might be.
We recognise that it’s not always possible or necessary for all GLS lawyers to work on a full-time basis. We believe that our lawyers should be able to combine personal and professional responsibilities without having to put their career aspirations permanently on hold.
Legal teams are willing to consider requests for flexible working. The most common flexible working arrangements include part-time working, flexible hours, home-working and job-sharing.
Around 24% of the GLS qualified lawyer population (below the most senior levels of the GLS) works on a formal part-time or job share basis. Some 16% of the GLS population (full and part-time workers) work from home, on a regular basis, as part of a formal working arrangement.
Flexible working arrangements are also available at the most senior levels in the GLS. 17% of GLS senior civil servants (SCS) works on a part-time basis. 17% of the SCS population works from home on a regular basis as part of a formal arrangement.
GLS lawyers can expect to receive a fair and flexible pay and reward package.
Individual government departments have responsibility for their own pay and grading structure. Consequently, starting salaries for lawyers will vary according their department, location and even the nature of their work.
Information on specific salary ranges will be included in the information pack available from departments’ recruitment teams. However, you might expect:
- legal officer, generally equivalent to 0 to 3 years’ post-qualified experience (PQE) £42,000 (dependent on location and experience)
- lawyer (Grade 7), generally equivalent to 3 or more years’ PQE, £48,000 (dependent on location and experience)
The GLS offers its lawyers a training and development programme which includes a wide range of public law such as:
- EU law
- administrative law
- commercial law
- employment law
- human rights law
The training programme has been created by lawyers from across the GLS. It concentrates on the specialist legal issues and broader skills essential to provide the government with a responsive and adaptable legal service. All lawyers new to the GLS are required to attend a 3 day induction course which provides an insight into all aspects of government legal practice.
As civil servants, lawyers in the GLS are eligible to join the civil service pension arrangements.
Civil Service pensions are part of the overall pay and rewards package. Members contribute toward their pension, and their employing departments also pay a significant contribution to provide the scheme benefits.
The pension scheme is set by statute. It is managed by the Cabinet Office, supported by a governance group of representatives nominated by Cabinet Office and the Council of Civil Service Unions.
Civil Service Code
As civil servants, lawyers in the GLS will be appointed on merit on the basis of fair and open competition and will be expected to carry out their role with dedication and a commitment to the Civil Service and its core values: integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.