A training contract is a compulsory period of practical training in a law firm for law graduates before they can qualify as a solicitor in the United Kingdom (UK), the Republic of Ireland, Australia or Hong Kong, or as an advocate and solicitor in Singapore. During the training period, the participant is known as a trainee solicitor or trainee lawyer (in Singapore).
A training contract can apply to any profession. In some 21st-century contracts, a small number of contracts are secured by an Agency who represent many training professionals. Otherwise training contracts can be negotiated locally.
Law training contracts make up the last stage of training before qualifying as a solicitor.
The training contract application and recruitment process can be lengthy and it’s a well-known fact that the number of training contracts outnumbers the number of applicants.
But don’t panic! Read on for some useful tips and information on things like training contract seats, secondments and salaries.
Training Contracts: Essential Information
- What Is a Training Contract?
- Training Contracts Salary
- What does a Trainee Solicitor do?
- Law Training Contract Seats
- Training Contract Secondments
- Professional Skills Course
- When to Apply for Training Contracts
- In House Training Contracts
What is a Law Training Contract?
A training contract in law is a two-year training period carried out in a law firm or in-house in a large organisation by law graduates pursuing a career as a solicitor.
This period of recognised training is regulated by the Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority (SRA). It’s supervised by the law firm or organisation’s experienced solicitors.
You can become a trainee solicitor after a qualifying law degree and the LPC. Or, if you did a non-law degree, after a conversion course, like the GDL.
A law training contract gives a trainee solicitor the opportunity to demonstrate to their firm of legal department and the SRA that you they the skills required to successfully practice law.
Legal trainees do this through completing different seats and immersing themselves in the culture of the law firm.
What Does a Trainee Solicitor do?
As a trainee solicitor, you will put all of your theoretical studies from university into practice.
You will get involved in work for a number of different clients.
Daily tasks may include:
- Attending meetings with clients
- Drafting emails and letters to clients
- Drafting and negotiating legal documents and contracts
- Attending interviews
- Preparing for and attending court proceedings
- Administrative tasks such as proofreading documents
Law Training Contract Seats
Law training contract seats are periods of time that law trainees spend in specific legal departments. Rotating seats allows you to develop and build your legal work experience and practical training in a number of different practice areas of the law.
Depending on where you train, trainee solicitors will either complete four six-month training contract seats or a greater number of shorter seats. In smaller law firms and large organisations with legal teams, legal trainees may have fewer departments to rotate between.
The types of seats you can expect will vary from firm to firm depending on its law specialism. You will be placed in both contentious (those which involve disputes) and non-contentious seats.
Training Contract Secondments
A training contract secondment is a period of training or seat that a trainee solicitor spends in-house in a client’s legal team. It could happen locally, nationally or overseas.
Larger legal firms tend to offer more opportunities to legal trainees for international training contract secondments. So if going on a secondment overseas is something important to you, you must bear this in mind while choosing the right law firm for you.
Professional Skills Course (PSC)
The Professional Skills Course is the last part of your compulsory training before qualifying as a solicitor and builds on the skills you’ve learned during the LPC or GDL.
It covers the following core areas:
- Financial and Business Skills
- Advocacy and Communication Skills
- Client Care and Professional Standards
During your Professional Skills course, you will take elective modules on areas of the law which interest you.
You can choose between contentious and non-contentious modules from various specialisms including criminal, family and corporate law.
There are also practice skills electives including modules on how to present, improve written communication and negotiate well. Commercial awareness also forms a big part of the course.
When to Apply For Law Training Contracts
When you should apply for solicitor training contracts depends on your chosen study route and choice of law firm.
In-House Training Contracts
An in-house law training contract is an alternative route to a career as a solicitor. This type of contract takes place at large commercial organisations such as BT and the BBC or the government and the Crown Prosecution Court which have their own legal teams.