Legal trainee scheme

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


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 Government Legal Department (GLD) including the Commercial Law Group, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).

The majority of the trainee places are based in London. However, GLD may offer places based in Leeds. There may also be a possibility to undertake a ‘seat’ in Manchester with HMRC.

Mailing List

The next legal trainee scheme will open in July 2019. To be notified as soon as the scheme 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.

Your training contract will be the responsibility of that department and 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 will have at least one seat in a litigation team and one in an advisory team.

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

Pupillage structure

The structure of the pupillage varies between departments.

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 (first 12 months) your time will be split between your department and a set of external barristers’ chambers.

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 most of their court work, so there are fewer opportunities for barristers to engage in oral advocacy. However, Barristers are given the opportunity to conduct cases in tribunals or courts, although the extent of that opportunity varies between departments and teams. Candidates wishing to focus principally on an advocacy career should bear this in mind.

Course fees

Departments will pay your Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) fees in full provided you have not yet started the course.

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

Departments will make a proportional payment based on the number of months remaining if you’ve started your course.

Departments will not reimburse your fees if you have successfully taken and passed your LPC or BPTC.

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

If you have yet to start your Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), departments may also be able to contribute towards your GDL fees. However, since this funding cannot be guaranteed, you will need to discuss this with the department making you an offer of a legal trainee position.


The salary will vary according to department and location.

The current first year legal trainee salary for GLD, HMRC, NCA and CMA is around £28,000. The second year salary is around £32,000.

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


Departments aim to offer all those recruited as legal trainees a permanent qualified lawyer post on successful completion of the training period, although 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 provides a 1 week vacation placement to 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:

Places on the scheme are offered to these organisations.

Outside of the Diversity Summer Scheme, there are no other vacation placement schemes 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 2 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. Trainee Solicitor and Pupil Barrister opportunities available in the 2018 legal trainee scheme
  2. GLS Legal Trainee Scheme is open for those interested in a training contract or pupillage in government departments such as GLD, HMRC and NCA.
  3. Updated to replace references to BIS with new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  4. GLS Legal Trainee Scheme is open.
  5. Announcement of the 2016 GLS Legal Trainee Scheme.
  6. Updated to reflect changes to vacation placement provision.
  7. Updated to reflect launch of application process
  8. Updated ahead of 2015 43cruitment campaign
  9. Updated to include detail about the 2015 legal trainee scheme recruitment campaign.
  10. Updated information regarding the GLD vacation placement scheme
  11. GLS graduate brochure added to page
  12. First published.