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Starting out


This website is dedicated to giving the best chance of success in your applications for Vacation Schemes and Training Contracts but if you’re just starting your legal journey, you may be wondering what these are.

Here is a brief summary:

Vacation Scheme

A Vacation Scheme is a placement programme offered by many firms and organisations. It’s essentially a more structured work experience opportunity.

It tends to vary in length from 1 week to 6 weeks, with the average being a 3 week placement. Vacation Schemes are structured to give you the best insight into the work and culture of the firm. You’ll usually be placed within a team or sector area and you may change to a different team if you have a slightly longer placement.

Training Contract

After completion of an LLB Law degree (or GDL) and the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (DPLP, Scotland only) or the Legal Practice Course (LPC, England & Wales & Northern Ireland), you’ll need to undertake a 2 year Training Contract.

The Training Contract consists of 4 6-month seats. This means that you’ll be working 4 different sectors or practice areas during your 2 year Training Contract.

Gaining Training Contracts is notoriously competitive, especially with most big corporate firms recruiting their trainee intake 2 years in advance. It is also becoming more common that firms exclusively recruit their trainee intake from their Vacation Scheme cohort so in order to get a Training Contract, you’ll need to gain a space on the Vacation Scheme first.

What’s next…

Generally speaking, the entry criteria for firms’ programmes is as follows:

  • 1st year of a 3 year degree/2nd year of a 4 year degree = eligible for firms’ insight programmes, work experiences, mini placements.
    • Example – CMS First Steps
  • 2nd year of a 3 year degree and above/3rd year of a 4 year degree and above = eligible for Vacation Schemes and Training Contracts

Now you have an idea of where you want to head next, you can have a look at the blogs to help you get started with your applications!

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