Information on the Legal Trainee Scheme application process

Guidance on the application process and hints on how to prepare for the 2018 Legal Trainee Scheme

This guidance was withdrawn on

2018 competition has closed

Application form

Before applying, please check the eligibility requirements (nationality and academic).

The first stage is to complete an online application form which includes an online Situational Judgement Test (SJT).

On the application form, candidates are asked to provide the following information:

  • Personal Information (name, address, contact details etc so the Recruitment Team can contact you during the recruitment process)
  • Nationality
  • Immigration Status
  • Position
  • Start Date (please check the ‘Places Available’ table)
  • Higher Education
  • Vocational Qualifications
  • Employment History
  • References (which will only be contacted if you are successful in obtaining a training position)

If you did not study in the UK, you should provide the course title, course details, grade achieved and country of study. The Recruitment Team is familiar with overseas qualifications but any further information is helpful.

If you reach the assessment centre you will be asked to bring original copies of your degree certificate and confirmation of results achieved for the Legal Practice Course or Bar Professional Training Course (where awarded).

You will also be asked to bring forms of identification such as passport, driving license, proof of address etc.

Blind recruitment policy

It’s not just our work which is unique. Our recruitment process is different too.

If you meet all elements of the minimum criteria, the personal information you provide in the application form is not seen by anybody making a decision about your application.

At the application stage, your responses in the 3 online tests are marked electronically.

At the assessment centre stage, the assessors only see your name and employment history (which will only be used in a positive way to assist with questioning in the interview).

Factors such as the university you attended, the classification of your degree, your gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability or social status do not influence our decision-making at any stage of the recruitment process.

The information you provide against these categories in the application form is only used to assist analysis of the recruitment process and the effectiveness of our marketing strategy once the recruitment process has finished.

Trainee Solicitor or Pupil Barrister

On the online application form you will be ask to choose the position you are applying for. The choices are:

  • Trainee Solicitor only
  • Trainee Solicitor only (Leeds)
  • Pupil Barrister only
  • Either (no preference)
  • Either (but Trainee Solicitor post preferred)
  • Either (but Pupil Barrister post preferred)

Please note that the Government Legal Department and HM Revenue & Customs will only be offering a small number of pupillages.

Competency based recruitment

We use a ‘competency-based’ approach throughout our recruitment process.

This means that we have analysed the competencies that our legal trainees need and we test for these throughout.

You can see the competencies on the How to Apply page.

The extent to which you demonstrate these competencies will determine whether you are offered a post.

Before the assessment centre, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on what to expect and how to prepare for the competency-based interview.

Ability tests

As a legal trainee you’ll need to be able to analyse and interpret complex information; have the ability to make reasonable deductions and assumptions from available information and have excellent judgement.

We use three online ability tests: a situational judgement test (SJT); a verbal reasoning test (VRT) and a critical reasoning test (CRT) to test your ability in these important areas. Examples of all three tests can be found on the How to Apply page.

In the SJT and VRT you’ll need to achieve a pass mark to move to the next stage of the process.

In the CRT, you will also need to achieve the pass mark but only the highest scoring candidates will be invited to the assessment centre.

Please note: Candidates applying under the terms of the Guaranteed Interview Scheme (GIS) who achieve the pass mark in the CRT will be automatically advanced to the assessment centre.

How to prepare for ability tests

To help you prepare for the VRT and CRT, you may wish to:

  • Look at the examples provided on the Website. This will give you an idea of how the tests will work
  • Look for other practice tests on the internet or speak to your careers team to see if they have examples you could practise
  • If you are familiar with the structure of the tests and the style of questioning, you will be able to focus on the questions themselves

When it comes to taking the tests:

  • Make sure that you have a good internet connection and that you are somewhere quiet so that you can focus on the tests without any interruptions. Once the tests have begun, the timer cannot be stopped
  • Keep an eye on the time. Try not to spend too long on a particular question
  • Make sure that you have fully understood what you have read and what you are being asked to do

You can’t prepare for the SJT in the same way. The questions are based on the types of scenario you may encounter as a legal trainee.

However, spending time reading about the work of our legal trainees or by watching our short film may give you an insight into our ethos. The best approach is to draw upon your experience and instinct to indicate how you would (and wouldn’t) respond.

Remember that the SJT is untimed. Therefore, you could, for example, read each question and consider (without looking at the possible multiple-choice options at this stage) how you would react to the given situation and what would be the best and least effective approach i.e. what you would and would not do.

You could then compare your approach to the given options and choose the ones that are nearest to your own thinking. This is, of course, only a suggested approach. You should make use of all the time available and approach the test in the way which feels most comfortable for you.

The real key is to focus on the question and not try to guess which of the options we are looking for. You should also leave plenty of time to double check that you are happy with your answers before you submit your application.

Reasonable adjustments

Candidates with a disability who wish to request reasonable adjustments to be considered (for any element of the process) should make the Recruitment Team aware of their requirements. Further details can be found on the How to Apply page.

Department choice

If you pass all the online tests and reach the assessment centre you will be given a form to indicate which department you wish to join if you receive an offer (first choice and second choice).

The departments participating in the 2018 legal trainee scheme are: Government Legal Department (GLD), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).

The positions and start date being offered by these departments is available on the Website. The assessment centre guide will also include further information on the training contracts/pupillages being offered.

It’s worth noting that the training contract/pupillages being offered varies between each department (GLD, HMRC, NCA and CMA). So we would recommend reading the guide carefully before making a decision.

At the offer stage, your chosen professional training route, start date and department will be taken into consideration by the Final Selection Board but there are no guarantees as offers are made in strict merit order.

It is highly unlikely that you can change your offer once it has been made by a department.

Published 1 July 2016
Last updated 2 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. hints and tips on the application process of the legal trainee scheme
  2. First published.