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

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

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

Mailing List

The application process for the next legal trainee scheme will open in early July 2019. To be notified as soon as the application process 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 can expect to have two advisory seats and two litigation seats.

If you have a particular interest in Commercial law and would like to complete your training contract in this area (i.e. working across the teams providing commercial services to various client departments) 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.

Examples of the training contract structure of GLD, GLD Commercial Law Group, HMRC, NCA and CMA can be found in the table below. Please note that this is subject to change and review.

Training Contract Structures

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Pupillage structure

The structure of the pupillage varies between departments (ie GLD and HMRC).

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 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 but 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.

Examples of the Pupillage structure of GLD and HMRC can be found in the table below. Please note that this is subject to change and review.

Pupillage Structures

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Course fees

Generally 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, 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) 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.

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.

Retention

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.

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.

Brochure

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.