Frequently Asked Questions
Please click on the sections below to find the answers to our most frequently asked questions.
How do I apply for a vacation placement or training contract?
All applications must be made online using the ‘Apply’ section of the graduate website. Candidates who undertake a vacation scheme will automatically be considered for a training contract and so are not required to make a separate training contract application.
What are your application deadlines?
We are currently recruiting for training contracts in England and Scotland. To apply for a September 2019 training contract in England, you must complete an online application and submit it before midnight on Friday 28 July 2017. Applications for a September 2019 training contract in Scotland will close on Friday 29 September 2017.
The deadline for English and Scottish vacation placement applications is midnight on Friday 6 January 2017. This is in order to be considered for a vacation placement taking place in Summer 2017. We do not currently offer Winter or Easter vacation placements.
Applications for Belfast based Training Contracts commencing in 2017 should be made by midnight on Friday 20 January 2017. Assessment centres will take place during February 2017.
I am completing a Law degree – does it matter what modules I choose to study?
Pinsent Masons does not stipulate that you need to have studied particular modules as part of your undergraduate studies, however, we would expect that students who are keen to pursue a career in commercial law will have taken the opportunity to further their knowledge in this area through choosing relevant modules, when the opportunity has arisen.
I am completing a Law degree with a year abroad – when can I apply for vacation placements?
You can apply in your penultimate year of study. We are able to offer candidates a telephone interview if they are overseas at the time of the assessment centre for vacation placements.
I am completing a non-Law degree with a year abroad – when can I apply for vacation placements?
If you are applying to one of our English offices you can apply from your penultimate year onwards, but not in the second year of a four-year course (even if you will be spending a year abroad as part of your studies). As a non-law student you will still be competing against candidates from a Law background, including those currently studying towards the GDL and LPC.
How many applications do you receive?
On average we receive about 1000 applications for vacation placements and an additional 800 applications for training contracts. We typically interview between 10-15% of applicants. Application numbers vary across each office with London receiving a disproportionately high number of applications.
Do you offer feedback on applications?
Given the number of applications we receive, we do not offer individual feedback to those applicants who are unsuccessful at the application screening stage. In order to help you maximise your chances of success we recommend you read our application advice document and familiarise yourself with our capability framework.
I do not meet your minimum academic requirement, can I still apply?
Law is an intellectually demanding career and we are looking to recruit candidates with strong academic results to date. If you have extenuating circumstances that have impacted negatively on your results then we are willing to take this into account. Please detail these on your application to us and if necessary contact us at email@example.com to discuss the circumstances in more detail prior to making an application. The remainder of your application will need to be very strong in order to be successful.
I don’t have A-level qualifications, but I gained other equivalent qualifications abroad – will you still consider my application?
Yes, please specify your grades and, where possible, please include the grading scale applied to the qualifications to allow us to assess you performance to date.
Is it advantageous to complete a Masters degree eg LLM before applying?
The vast majority of our trainees have not undertaken any post-graduate study other than the GDL and/or LPC. While a Masters level qualification may enhance your subject-matter knowledge in a given area we do not feel it will necessarily enhance the skills required to be a successful trainee solicitor.
Do I need previous legal work experience to apply?
Candidates applying for a vacation placement are not required to have previous legal work experience, however, we would encourage you to attend law fairs, campus events and open days as these will help you develop your understanding of the legal sector and also demonstrate a commitment to a career in law.
Candidates applying directly for a training contract need to show evidence of previous work experience, ideally in a commercial environment. The experience does not need to be extensive (two weeks would be sufficient) but you need to be able to demonstrate through the assessment process that you have first-hand knowledge of what it would be like to work in a commercial environment.
What if I need a work permit?
It is difficult for us to sponsor overseas nationals, as we must justify why we are recruiting from overseas rather than within the EEA. We do accept applications from non-EU nationals, but please ensure you are clear in your application about what (if any) sponsorship you will require in order to be able to work in the UK on a permanent, full-time basis.
If I previously applied to Pinsent Masons and was unsuccessful, can I re-apply?
Yes, you will need to complete a new online application in order to be considered and cannot apply directly for a Training Contract in the same year you applied for a Vacation Placement. It is very important that you consider why your initial application was unsuccessful before you reapply.
In the past candidates who have reapplied have been successful with their second application but the majority are not. In many cases this is because their application does not show any significant improvement from their initial application. Please note if you were unsuccessful in securing a training contract following a vacation placement at the firm you cannot reapply for another vacation placement. Instead you should apply directly for a training contract.
I require the application form in an alternative format, can you provide this?
Yes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of the format you require in order to complete an application. If you require adjustments to be made please give us as much notice as possible in order to make these changes.
What should I do if I require reasonable adjustment to be made during the recruitment process?
We are committed to ensuring that all candidates can participate fully in our selection process. Please email email@example.com with details of the adjustment you may require.
I am worried that if I disclose my disability this will impact negatively on my application.
We welcome applications from all candidates and assess them on their individual merits. It is up to each candidate whether they choose to disclose their disability but we can only provide support and make the necessary adjustments if you inform us.
Is there an upper age limit for applicants?
No, we are happy to consider applications from all candidates.
Do you pay fees and any maintenance grants?
In England we pay GDL and LPC fees and maintenance grants to graduates who have accepted a training contract with us, prior to starting law school. In Scotland we pay fees for PEAT1 and provide a maintenance grant. In Northern Ireland we pay fees for the IPLS. The level of sponsorship offered is reviewed on a regular basis in order to ensure it remains competitive.
Do you mind where I study?
All GDL and LPC students need to study at the University of Law in order to receive sponsorship from us. You can choose any of the following locations: Birmingham, Leeds, London (Moorgate) and Manchester. Scottish candidates are welcome to study towards the Diploma at any approved institution. We do still accept applications from candidates who have self-funded their law school studies through other recognised providers.
What LPC electives should I study?
Pinsent Masons encourages students to study those subjects that most closely relate to the work of our firm. All students receiving sponsorship from the firm must study the following ‘City’ electives: Public Companies Law and Practice, Mergers and Acquisitions Law and Practice, Banking and Debt Finance Law and Practice. If you have already completed the LPC but have studied other modules you can still apply, but you may be asked to explain your module choice should you be invited to an assessment event.
Can I study towards the fast-track LLM at the College of Law?
Your priority must be to secure the best grade possible in your LPC studies – we expect a minimum of a Commendation and the vast majority of our future trainees achieve a Distinction. We do not wish to add further to our future trainee’s workload by asking them to study towards an LLM, however, if you wish to study towards the fast-track LLM in your own time then you will need to cover the associated costs yourself.
I have already completed the GDL and/or LPC, will you refund my course fees?
No, any fees related to a course that you have completed prior to being made a training contract offer will not be reimbused.
I did not achieve a Commendation or Distinction on the GDL and/or LPC, can I still apply?
The vast majority of our future trainees achieve a Distinction and we expect all applicants to have at least attained a Commendation. If you have not met this minimum standard then we would only be able to accept an application from you if there are mitigating circumstances. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss these prior to submitting your application.
UK Training Contracts
How many training contracts do you offer each year?
We regularly review the number of training contracts we offer as we are keen to ensure that the number accurately reflects the demand for newly qualified lawyers across our business. We typically offer around 68 UK-based training contracts per year.
Do I need to undertake a vacation placement to be offered a training contract?
No, we recognise that students (and career changers) can have other commitments that would stop them undertaking a placement and therefore we also conduct training contract assessment centres for direct applicants. However, our vacation placement programme is the ideal opportunity for students to gain a detailed understanding of the firm and vice versa.
Can I defer my offer?
Yes, subject to our business requirements. This can be agreed with the Graduate Recruitment Manager within a reasonable timeframe before your agreed start date.
I have previous legal experience – can it count towards my training contract?
Our training contract provides experience-based professional training, plus a rounded picture of Pinsent Masons. Reducing the training contract would reduce the in-depth insight graduates gain, and therefore it is our policy not to grant reductions in the training contract.
Do I get to choose my seats?
We consult with all our trainees about which seats they undertake before decisions are made. We make every effort, within the constraints of the training contract, to ensure trainees experience the groups that interest them but commercial considerations must also be taken into account. At present the firm does not have any mandatory seats in England and Scotland that trainees must undertake. In our Belfast office trainees must spend time in Property, Corporate and Litigation.
Can I undertake seats in more than one location?
We are looking for flexibility in our trainees, and where opportunities arise in the business there is certainly room to move around. Currently around 10% of each trainee intake spends at least one seat in another office (excluding those on client secondments) and we anticipate this will rise over time. At present there are limited opportunities to undertake an international seat.
Do you offer client secondments?
Yes, on average 15% of our trainees undertake a secondment during their training contract. All second year trainees are able to express an interest in undertaking a secondment with places being awarded on the basis of performance and future career aspirations.
What is your retention rate?
Our intention is to retain as many trainees as possible, our recent retention rate has been in excess of 80%. We invest a lot of time and money in our trainees but we are only able to offer positions for newly qualified solicitors where there is a justifiable business case. This is why we also encourage our trainees to keep an open mind as to where they might like to qualify (both in terms of practice area and location).
What is the starting salary?
All our UK Trainee salaries are benchmarked against the market rates in their locations. Our current salaries are as follows:
Location Trainee SolicitorYear 1 Trainee Solicitor Year 2 Newly Qualified Solicitor London £38,000 £41,000 £65,000 English regions £26,500 £28,500 £40,000 Northern Ireland* £13,500 £15,000 £27,000 Scotland £22,000 £24,500 £38,000
*the Trainee Solicitor salary in Northern Ireland takes account of the fact that the trainees are attending the Institute of Professional Legal Studies whilst undertaking their Training Contract and are not working full time.
UK Vacation Placements
Do I have to submit an application for a training contract as well as a vacation placement?
If you are successful in gaining a place on the vacation placement programme you will automatically be considered for a training contract at the firm. If you are not successful with your application for a vacation placement you will need to wait for 12 months before applying for either a vacation placement or training contract.
How long does the vacation placement last?
The programme runs over a two-week period in the English and Belfast offices, and over three weeks in the Scottish offices. Each office typically has two intakes of vacation placement students with placements commencing in June and July.
Is the vacation placement programme paid?
Yes, in 2016 Vacation Placement students will receive £350 per week in London, £300 per week in the English and in Scotland and £250 per week in Northern Ireland.
What is the format of the programme?
You will sit in one practice area over your time at the firm (with the exception of Belfast where you spend a week in two different practice areas). This will ensure that you get greater exposure to that area of law and form a deeper relationship with your team, enabling you to be more involved with their work and therefore gain greater responsibility and experience. During the placement you will also undertake a number of formal assessments, attend presentations and get involved in social activities.
Do you get to choose which practice group you sit in?
You are asked to give your top three practice group preferences and we will do our best to accommodate your request. However from time to time it may be difficult to achieve this due to commercial reasons – we wouldn’t want to place you in a department that is quieter than normal or where the trainee or their supervisor is on annual leave/secondment.
Can I undertake a vacation placement in my first year at university?
No, we do not offer vacation placements to first year students unless you are undertaking the accelerated (two-year) LLB or equivalent. First year students are encouraged to develop their knowledge of the legal sector by attending campus events and insight evenings or through gaining some commercial experience in an alternative organisation, this need not be a law firm.
Do you offer vacation placements in your overseas offices?
All candidates seeking a UK Training Contract must undertake a vacation placement in a UK office in order to be considered. Only candidates applying to become a Trainee Solicitor in Hong Kong should apply for a vacation placement in Hong Kong. At present we do not offer vacation placements in either of our Middle East offices but candidates may be interested in our Dubai work-shadow placement scheme.
UK School Work Experience Programmes
What are the School Work Experience dates?
We offer work experience in all our UK offices during the Summer and October holidays. The duration of all our placements is one week.
The dates for 2017 are as follows:
Monday 7 – Friday 11 August
Monday 21 – Friday 25 August
Monday 23 – Friday 27 October
Monday 31 July – Friday 4 August
Monday 16 – Friday 20 October
Monday 21 – Friday 25 August
I am under 16 years old; can I undertake work experience with you?
No, we only offer work experience placements to school students who are over 16 years old and who are studying towards their AS/A Levels (or equivalent). If you are still studying towards your GCSE’s (or equivalent) will need to wait until you have completed these before applying.