Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on the sections below to find the answers to our most frequently asked questions.

  • Application Advice

    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 placement automatically be considered for a training contract and so are not required to make a separate training contract application.

    What are your application deadlines?

    England and Scotland

    We are currently inviting applications for our 2018 summer Vacation Placement programme in our English and Scottish offices. The deadline for applications is 11:59p.m. on Friday 5 January 2018.

    We are also inviting applications for Training Contracts commencing in September 2020 in England and Scotland. The deadline for applications is 11:59p.m. on Friday 27 July 2018.

    To apply for either a 2018 Vacation Placement or a 2020 Training Contract, you must complete an online application.

    Northern Ireland

    We are currently inviting applications for our 2018 summer Vacation Placement programme in our Belfast office. The deadline for applications is 11:59p.m. on Friday 23 February 2018.

    We are also inviting applications for Training Contracts commencing in September 2018 in Belfast. The deadline for applications is 11:59p.m. on Thursday 16 November 2017.

    To apply for either a 2018 Vacation Placement or a 2018 Training Contract, you must complete an online application.

    I am completing a Law degree – does it matter what modules I choose to study?

    We do 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).

    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 invite between 10-15% of applicants to undertake an assessment centre.

    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?

    We review all applications holistically, taking account of candidates’ academic achievements, work experience and extra-curricular activities. However, law is an intellectually demanding career and we are looking to recruit candidates who can evidence intellectual capability. If you have mitigating circumstances that have impacted negatively on your results then we will consider these when reviewing your application. There is an opportunity for you to include this information in your application form. If you would prefer to discuss in more detail prior to making an application, please contact us at graduate@pinsentmasons.com.

    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?

    Legal work experience will, undoubtedly, help you to develop the knowledge and skills required for a career in law. However, non-legal work experience and many other job roles will help you to develop the skills and competences we are looking for in our vacation placement students and trainee solicitors. You should include the examples which best evidence your skill-set in your application.

    We would also 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.

    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.

  • Equal Opportunities

    Should I tell you about my disability?

    Yes, knowing what adjustments or support you require during the recruitment process enables us to implement these for you to ensure you can fully participate in the process and demonstrate your skills.

    When should I tell you?

    The earlier the better, as it ensure adjustments and support can be put in place for you as soon as you require them. This can be as early as the application stage. Please email graduate@pinsentmasons.com with details of the adjustment you may require or to set up a call to discuss how we can best support you through the process.

    What if I don’t tell you about my disability?

    You will never be required to discuss your disability. However, the longer you wait to mention any adjustments you need, the harder it will be for us to provide the support you need.

    I require the application form in an alternative format, can you provide this?

    Yes, please email graduate@pinsentmasons.com 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.

  • Law School

    Do you pay fees and any maintenance grants?

    The Firm is committed to our future trainee recruits and on this basis will support for our trainee joiners through their post-graduate courses.

    In England we pay GDL and/or 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 and GSPLS. The level of sponsorship offered is reviewed on a regular basis in order to ensure it remains competitive. Please note that funding is not available for courses already completed by you at the time of our offer of a Training Contract.

    Do you mind where I study?

    We have an exclusive relationship with the University of Law and all our future funded trainees will be required to study the LPC at one of the specified branches. Under the agreement, the University of Law is also our preferred provider for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). 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?

    We 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 offered a training contract will not be reimbursed.

    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 graduate@pinsentmasons.com 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 candidates may 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, we will give careful consideration to requests for deferring the start date of your training contract (up to a maximum of 12 months) and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, subject to the needs of the business. 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 over four six-month seats. This provides the benefit of experiencing four different teams which could all be potential qualification options and allows our trainees to form a well-rounded view of our business. Trainees with extensive legal work experience will have the opportunity submit an application for ‘Time to Count’ and each application will be considered on its own merit, in line with SRA guidelines and the needs of the business.

    Do I get to choose my seats?

    Trainees have the opportunity to provide details of their seat preferences in relation to each seat move. We make every effort, taking into consideration the guidelines of the regulatory body and the needs of the business, to ensure trainees experience the groups that interest them. 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 and agility in our trainees and, where opportunities arise in the business, there is certainly scope to spend time in more than one office. Currently, around 10% of each trainee intake spends at least one seat in another office. We support our trainees when they move away from their ‘base’ location.

    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 75%. We invest a great deal in the future success of our trainees but we are only able to offer positions for newly-qualified (NQ) solicitors where a role has been identified as part of our NQ process. This is why we encourage 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 Solicitor Year 1 Trainee Solicitor  Year 2 Newly Qualified Solicitor
    London  £40,000  £43,000  £68,000
    English regions  £26,500 £27,750 £42,000
    Northern Ireland  £15,500 £16,500  £28,000
    Scotland  £22,000 £24,500  £39,000

  • 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 our vacation placement programme you will automatically be considered for a training contract at the firm, and will undertake TC assessments during the course of your placement.

    If your application for a vacation placement is unsuccessful, you will need to wait until the following year to apply 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 2017 vacation placement students will receive £350 per week in London, £300 per week in the English regional offices 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 you get greater exposure to that area of law and form deeper relationships with your team, enabling you to get more involved with their work, gaining better experience and enjoying greater responsibility. During the placement you will also undertake assessments for a training contract, 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.

    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.

    Do you offer vacation placements in your overseas offices?

    We offer a vacation placement in our Hong Kong office. However, this is only available to candidates looking train and qualify in Hong Kong.

    At present we do not offer vacation placements in any of our other international offices but candidates interested in our Middle East offices 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 2018 are:

    England (Birmingham, Leeds, London and Manchester)

    • Monday 6 – Friday 10 August
    • October – To be Confirmed

    Scotland (Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow)

    • Monday 30 July – Friday 3 August
    • Monday 15 – Friday 19 October

    Northern Ireland (Belfast)

    • Monday 20 – Friday 24 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.