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Training contract FAQs for law students

Training contract FAQs for law students

If you are a law student looking to secure a training contract, we’ve answered some commonly asked questions to help put your mind at ease and arm you with all the information you need to know.  

We’ll cover what a training contract is, how long they last, the key roles and responsibilities of a training contract and whether you need a training contract to become a solicitor. So, whether you’re an aspiring solicitor, a law student or completely new to the world of law, there’s something to help you in this article. 

What is a training contract?

Simply put, a training contract is a period of time where you will be able to put into practice everything you’ve learnt during your studies or figure out the day-to-day duties of a solicitor if you haven’t carried out a law degree. 

What happens during a training contract? 

During your training contract, you are likely to rotate between different ‘seats’. A ‘seat’ means different specialisms and areas of law the firm you are working for specialises in. So, for one part of the training contract, you could be in the conveyancing team, the next in wills and probate followed by a stint in criminal law. 

Training contracts are a great way to get a taste of which areas you enjoy, find interesting and are good at to help make the decision on which area you’d like to go into when you qualify.  

You will have a supervisor who will oversee your training contract and answer any questions you have. But as you’ll be exposed to so many members of the firm, make sure you are asking them all your questions too.

How long does a training contract last?

The standard duration of a training contract is two years. However, in some instances, you can complete a part-time training contract which can take three or more years to complete. 

If your circumstances allow, it’s beneficial to complete the training contract in two years. 

How much will I get paid for a training contract? 

This will vary depending on the firm and location you secure a training contract with. But the average salary for a training contract is £20,000 - £40,000 – the higher end being for firms based in London. 

Do I need a training contract to become a solicitor? 

The answer is no, however, it’s a bit complex at the moment. In 2021, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) introduced the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) as an alternative way to become a solicitor. The Legal Practice Course (LPC) will be faded out over the next 10 years, so whilst a training contract isn’t necessary when becoming a solicitor, it is still very much a viable option, and one law firms actively recruit for.  

If you decide to choose the SQE route to becoming a solicitor, you will undertake Qualified Work Experience (QWE) instead of a training contract. 

What are the benefits of doing a training contract?

So, you are probably wondering what the benefits of completing a training contract are, if you don’t actually need one to become a solicitor. Well, there are many positives to undertaking a training contract: 

You get to meet lots of team members

A training contract is a great way to get your foot in the door with all different departments, which means meeting a huge amount of the team who you might not otherwise be able to do. Law firms can have hundreds of employees that you might only pass in the corridors, so by being part of different teams, you’ll be sure to meet people who you get on with and who make your time at the firm enjoyable.

You get to try out different areas of law

If you are fresh out of university or don’t have experience in law at all, you might not fully know which areas of law you are interested in. Therefore, getting to try multiple different specialisms, and the differences between them will help you to decide which area you want to fulfil a career in.

You get to see what it’s like to work in a law firm day-to-day. 

Thinking about being a solicitor, and actually being one in a law firm might be two different things. By undertaking a training contract, you can see what day-to-day life in a law firm is actually like and decide whether it’s for you.

You learn valuable experience and skills

A training contract is all about helping you learn and develop your skills, so it might be obvious to say, but one of the main benefits is learning new things and developing yourself, which will help you to become a better solicitor.

You’ll make new contacts

Whether you decide to stay with the firm you do your training contract in or not, you’ll make new contacts that will benefit you later in your career which you otherwise might not gain. This could give you the upper edge when looking for future roles. 

Where is the best place to do a training contract? 

This will completely depend on you and what you are interested in. Of course, there are firms that have a better reputation than others, but only you can decide which firm is most suitable for you. And don’t forget, the firms that are considered ‘the best’ will also be much more competitive.

Read on to see what factors you should consider about a firm when applying for a training contract. 

What should I consider when applying for a training contract? 

A training contract is as much about selling yourself to a firm, as it is deciding whether the firm and career are right for you.

To determine which firm you want to carry out a training contract, and hopefully, a long-term career with you should consider a few factors: 

  • What services the firm offers - could you see yourself here long-term?
  • What the culture of the firm is - does this fit with your lifestyle?
  • What the working policy is – if there isn’t a hybrid working option, does that concern you?
  • How big the firm is - is there room for growth, is it too big that you might get lost in the crowd?
  • What the quality of training is – these are two very important years, so you want to ensure you’re getting the most out of your training contract.

How can I secure a training contract?

Well, you can head to our jobs page to see which law firms are currently hiring for training contracts. But, as mentioned previously, do your research, decide which firms share your values and interests and then complete a tailored application for each firm that interests you. Training contracts are very competitive so make sure you are well-prepared and submit your application with plenty of time to spare.