Training Contracts – Northern Ireland

A training contract at Pinsent Masons represents the first stage of a focused development programme that will enable you to become a qualified lawyer and fulfil your potential. Our training programme has been developed in-house; this ensures you receive a bespoke, balanced and comprehensive introduction to the profession.

  • Programme Structure

    We are proud of the high quality work, early responsibility and exposure to clients we can offer all our Trainees, and are keen to offer the best possible training experience to those who join us. This begins from the moment you accept your Training Contract offer. We have a programme of events and communications which allow us to keep in touch with you throughout the time between you accepting our offer and joining the firm.

    However, the journey doesn’t stop there; indeed it is only the beginning of your Training Contract experience. This starts with an induction at our Crown Place Headquarters in London, where you will meet with your Trainee cohort, get your training off to a flying start and begin to grow your network of contacts across the business. The following week all Trainees attend a residential Trainee Conference, where you will undertake intensive legal and skills training as well as getting to know your trainee peers through a series of social events.

    Throughout your Training Contract you will continue to receive the technical legal skills training you require, as well as complementary skills training, which will fully equip you for your life as a newly-qualified Solicitor and business advisor.

    Training & Seat Rotations

    Our Graduate Development Team will work with you throughout your two years as a Trainee to ensure that you meet the requirements of your Training Contract, as outlined by the Law Society of Northern Ireland, as well as working with you and the wider business in the allocation of seats. Our Graduate Development team will also meet with you regularly for one to one sessions throughout your Training Contract to provide pastoral support and guidance.

    Trainees in our Belfast office move departments every six months, this gives you the necessary time to develop the legal and commercial depth of understanding required to take on real responsibility. Property, Corporate and Litigation are all practice groups that we recommend you spend time in to ensure you have a good grounding in our core areas other seats include Projects, Energy, Construction, Infrastructure,  Banking & Finance and Employment. Our aim is to give you broad exposure to a number of different areas of the firm so that you have a number of options when you come to qualify.

    We are also one of a handful of firms in Northern Ireland registered to take on students who have completed the LPC course in England to complete their two year Training Contract in Northern Ireland as outlined by the SRA. As we have excellent local, UK and international clients who we service from our Belfast office, we can offer LPC students high calibre training on cases from their required jurisdiction. We also provide weekly technical and skills training taken by lawyers who are leaders in their field.


    Unfortunately, due to local Law Society restrictions, Belfast-based trainees are usually unable to complete a seat in another jurisdiction as they are required to undertake compulsory training throughout their Training Contract, which is delivered locally by the IPLS (see below). However, it is important to remember that you do not need to work overseas to undertake work with an international dimension, given that so much of the work undertaken in our UK offices has a global aspect. We also encourage secondments on qualification.

  • Making an Application

    From September 2017 we will be inviting applications for Training Contracts commencing in 2018. The deadline for applications is 11:59p.m. on Thursday 16 November 2017. Assessment centres for Training Contracts will take place during late November 2017.

    Applications for Training Contracts are made using our online application system. Your application is your opportunity to take the first step in what could be a remarkable legal career. Please take your time, consider your answers and remember to double-check them for accuracy and spelling.

    Minimum Entry Requirements

    The minimum requirements that all our trainees are expected to meet or exceed are:

    • 300+ UCAS points from your three best A-levels or equivalent
    • attainment or prediction of a strong 2.1 degree
    • a place at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS) or attainment of a Commendation in the Legal Practice Course (LPC) from candidates following that route

    If you do not meet any of criteria but there are mitigating circumstances which explain why you have failed to meet the minimum academic requirements, there is an opportunity for you to include this information in your application.

    From Application to Assessment

    After the deadline, all applications are screened to a pre-defined framework and we shortlist those candidates who best meet our core capabilities. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to undertake an online psychometric test with those who pass being invited to log-on to our application system and book a place on one of our assessment centres. The assessment centre comprises of a number of different elements:

    • a behavioural/commercial interview with a Partner or Senior Associate
    • a business simulation exercise including a review meeting with a Senior Associate
    • a SWOT presentation
    • the opportunity to spend time with some of our current trainees

    After the assessment centres, candidates performance across all elements is considered, with those who best demonstrate that they meet our core capabilities receiving an offer of a Training Contract. Once the assessment centres have taken place we will contact all applicants to advise of the outcome of their application. The whole process from application deadline to notification of outcomes is no more than two months.

  • Salary & Benefits

    Belfast-based trainees must have been offered a place at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS), part of Queen’s University Belfast. Alternatively, the Belfast office is also registered to accept students who have completed the one-year Legal Practice Course and will accept applications for a Training Contract from candidates following this route.

    A training contract represents a big investment in your future. In light of this, Pinsent Masons will pay IPLS fees (or LPC fees) for trainees provided you complete your Training Contract with the firm.

    Northern Ireland Apprentices spend part of their training working in our offices and spend the remainder of their time studying at the IPLS. In their first year they receive a salary of £15,500, rising to £16,500 in second year and £28,000 on qualification. Trainees who have followed the LPC route work on a full-time basis, therefore their salaries are slightly higher to reflect this. Salaries are reviewed annually.

    The firm also offers the sort of comprehensive benefits package you would expect from a leading employer.

  • Qualification & beyond

    Trainee Retention

    Given how much we invest, we aim to retain as many Trainees as possible – our recent retention rate has been in excess of 70% and many Trainees have gone on to become Partners in the firm. The wider pressures of the global economy have made it harder for commercial law firms to retain their Trainees and we have had to respond to this. By carefully controlling the number of Trainees in the business and increasing our use of paralegals and legal support staff, we aim, not only to retain a greater percentage of our Trainees in future, but also ensure that they are given the highest quality of work, which will stretch them further and allow them to learn and develop quickly.

    The NQ (Newly-Qualified) Selection Process

    Where their experience, and route to qualification, allows we also give Trainees the opportunity to apply for any of the available vacancies at the firm when the come to qualify. This means you are not limited to qualifying only in the office you have spent the majority of your time as a Trainee. The NQ process is fair and transparent. A list of the roles available is circulated, with Trainees applying for the roles they would like to be considered for. Interviews are held for each vacancy with positions being offered to the applicant who is able to best demonstrate their suitability for the role.

    Trying to predict exactly where you will be in 10 years time is certainly difficult, but you can ensure there will always be opportunities open to you by securing a Training Contract at a leading firm, which is well-respected across the business world.

    Continuous Professional Development

    Once you qualify your development doesn’t stop. Instead you start to focus your energies on becoming a specialist in your chosen area. This is facilitated by a number of bespoke training courses delivered by both your practice area and through the Pinsent Masons Academy. Together, these ensure that you will continue to develop the necessary skills to allow you to progress further in your career and take on additional responsibility.

  • Find Out More

    We are inviting interested applicants to meet the firm prior to submitting an application by attending one of our Office Insight Evenings or a campus event. Details of all upcoming events can be found in the Events section.

    You may also wish to visit our Facebook page or follow our Trainees on Twitter @PMGradsBelfast where you can receive up-to-date news from the firm and find out more about developments across the legal sector.

    If you have any other questions relating to this programme, take a look at the FAQs section of this website.