Guidance

Legal trainee scheme

Information on the Trainee Solicitor and Pupil Barrister opportunities available within government departments

Introduction

The legal trainee scheme (LTS) is the term used to describe the training contract and pupillage opportunities available within government departments.

The departments which typically offer legal trainee places through the LTS are:

This short film showcases the breadth of work government lawyers and legal trainees are involved in.

In these video Saira (GLD) and Charles (HMRC) provide an insight into their experiences as legal trainees/post qualification.

In these articles Kyle (GLD Commercial Law Group), Mass (GLD), Jake (NCA), Chantal (CMA) and Milan (CMA) discuss their experiences as legal trainees.

The Civil Service is an equal opportunities employer.

Mailing List

The next legal trainee scheme (LTS) will open in 2021.

To be notified as soon as the LTS is open, you can add your contact details to our mailing list.

Training contract structure

If your application is successful you will be allocated to one of the recruiting departments (ie GLD, GLD Commercial Law Group, HMRC, NCA and CMA).

Your training contract will be the responsibility of that department. The nature of your training will vary according to the department you have been allocated to.

Generally speaking, you’ll spend time in 4 main areas of practice (known as ‘seats’). Each seat lasts 6 months.

As a legal trainee, you can expect to have two advisory seats and two litigation seats.

If you have a particular interest in commercial law, you may wish to consider applying for the training contracts available within GLD’s Commercial Law Group.

Departments only offer full 2-year training contracts and do not take into account previous training completed elsewhere.

The table below gives examples of the training contract and post-qualification arrangements of GLD, GLD Commercial Law Group, HMRC, NCA and CMA. Please note that this is subject to change and review.

Training Contract and Post-Qualification Arrangements

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Pupillage structure

If your application is successful you will be allocated to one of the recruiting departments (ie GLD and HMRC).

Your training will be the responsibility of that department. The nature of your training will vary according to the department you have been allocated to.

Typically the training period offered by departments will last 2 years (and will not take into account previous training completed elsewhere).

During the pupillage period (the first 12 months) your time will be split between your department and a set of external barristers’ chambers. The remainder of the training period will be completed within your department.

You’ll be involved in the wide range of work in which your department and chambers are involved in. You’ll attend court, initially with your supervisor, carry out research for other lawyers and draft opinions.

Government departments use the services of external counsel for much of their court work. This means that legal trainees get the opportunity to work with and learn from experienced panel counsel who are leading experts in their respective fields.

Barristers working within government departments are given the opportunity to conduct cases in tribunals or courts. However the extent of that opportunity can vary between departments and teams. Candidates wishing to focus principally on an advocacy career should bear this in mind.

The table below gives examples of the training and post-qualification arrangements of GLD and HMRC can be found in the table below. Please note that this is subject to change and review.

Pupillage and Post-Qualification Arrangements

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What happens after your training

After successful completion of your training period (whilst this can never be guaranteed) departments hope to be able to offer a qualified lawyer position (subject to probation).

The arrangements in place for newly qualified lawyers differ between departments. For example, GLD operates a 2+2 Scheme. This scheme aims to ensure that newly qualified lawyers gain a breadth and depth of experience by exposure to GLD’s contentious and non-contentious work, over and above the six month rotating training seats.

On taking up the offer of a qualified lawyer role within GLD, you would be allocated to two further postings, each lasting two years. You will spend two years in a contentious post and two years in a non-contentious post. Postings will depend on business need but will take account of personal preference where possible.

In HMRC Solicitor’s Office you will typically spend your first two to three years, post qualification, in a litigation team. Subsequent posts will generally last three or four years and may be in litigation or advisory teams. Postings will depend on business need but will take account of personal preference where possible.

Course fees

Generally departments will pay your Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) fees.

There is no preference which law or bar school you attend, or which electives you undertake.

Departments will not reimburse your fees if you have successfully completed the LPC or BPTC.

You may be eligible for a grant of about £5,400 (National) to £7,600 (London). This is for the vocational year if you intend to study for your LPC or BPTC on a full-time and, possibly, part-time basis. You’ll need to discuss your eligibility for a grant with the department at the offer stage.

Unfortunately, departments will be unable to provide funding for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).

Salary

The salary will vary according to department and location.

As an indication, the current first year legal trainee salaries for GLD, HMRC, NCA and CMA are around £28,000. The current second year salaries are around £32,000.

Please note that salaries and terms and conditions are subject to review.

Brochure

Retention

Departments aim to offer all those recruited as legal trainees a permanent qualified lawyer post on successful completion of the training period. However, this can never be guaranteed.

Paralegal roles

Departments such as GLD, HMRC, NCA and CMA advertise their Paralegal opportunities on the Civil Service Jobs website.

Diversity Summer Scheme

The Diversity Summer Scheme is a 1 week summer vacation placement (normally takes place during the first week of July).

The scheme is for undergraduates or graduates from diverse backgrounds which are currently under-represented across the legal profession.

The Diversity Summer Scheme has previously worked in partnership with the following organisations:

If this scheme is something you might be interested in, you will need to consider joining one of these organisations as places are allocated through them.

Each organisation will also have their own application process (which we are not involved in).

Participants will get an insight into the work of government lawyers through talks and workshops. Also, there will be a few tours arranged, for example, of the Supreme Court and Parliament.

Outside of the Diversity Summer Scheme, there are no other vacation placement schemes or work experience opportunities available.

It’s important to understand that the Diversity Summer Scheme is not used to assess suitability for a training contract or pupillage.

The application processes for the Diversity Summer Scheme and Legal Trainee Scheme are separate. If you obtain a summer placement and wish to apply for the LTS, you will need to apply through our legal trainee scheme application process.

Published 25 July 2014
Last updated 6 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. Launch of the 2020 Legal Trainee Scheme

  2. Launch of the 2019 legal trainee scheme

  3. Trainee Solicitor and Pupil Barrister opportunities available in the 2018 legal trainee scheme

  4. GLS Legal Trainee Scheme is open for those interested in a training contract or pupillage in government departments such as GLD, HMRC and NCA.

  5. Updated to replace references to BIS with new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

  6. GLS Legal Trainee Scheme is open.

  7. Announcement of the 2016 GLS Legal Trainee Scheme.

  8. Updated to reflect changes to vacation placement provision.

  9. Updated to reflect launch of application process

  10. Updated ahead of 2015 43cruitment campaign

  11. Updated to include detail about the 2015 legal trainee scheme recruitment campaign.

  12. Updated information regarding the GLD vacation placement scheme

  13. GLS graduate brochure added to page

  14. First published.