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What is a training contract?

If you’re hoping to become a solicitor you’ll already know there are several important stages you’re required to go through in order to fully qualify. One of those stages may be finding and completing a training contract. Read on to find out everything you need to know about training contracts and discover how they can kickstart your legal career.

By Grant Longstaff. Published 19 June 2024.

What is a law training contract?

A law training contract is a two year period of practical learning undertaken by aspiring solicitors who have taken the Legal Practice Course (LPC) route to qualify as a solicitor. During a training contract, also referred to as a period of recognised training, you’ll work at a law firm and gain hands on experience in a number of legal practice areas.

Each period is known as a “seat” and last approximately six months each. You’ll also have to tackle both contentious and non-contentious seats. Contentious areas of law typically involve a dispute between parties and could end up in court, whereas non-contentious law is often focused on achieving the goal of a single party. This provides an opportunity to gain a broader understanding of several areas. It’s difficult to say what areas your seats may cover – some law firm trainees are able to choose, others will be placed where a firm feels is best. It’s also worth noting that, depending on the firm, you could spend time with one of their clients through a secondment.

Throughout a training contract you’ll have the support of a supervisor and the lawyers in each seat. Once you’ve completed your seats, you’ll hopefully have the opportunity to move into a practice area of your choosing.

It’s important to point out that whilst the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) are phasing out the LPC and replacing it with the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), there is still scope to study the LPC and find a training contract.

How do I apply for a training contract?

Training contracts are competitive, but with dedication and preparation you’ll increase your chances of making a successful application.

One of the first things you’ll need to do is research a number of law firms. Identify the organisations which practice law in the areas you have an interest in. What kind of reputation does the firm hold in the legal community? Is there any anecdotal evidence of the firms work culture? What do their training contract programmes look like? Remember to look beyond a firm’s website to gain a broader picture of them.

Tailoring your application to each firm is also a must. A generic application is less likely to stand out against one that is personalised and considered. Explain why you’re the ideal candidate for a particular firm, let them know what you can bring to the table and show how your knowledge and experience match the ethos of their organisation.

When do you apply for a training contract?

Law firms will look to fill their training contract positions up to two years in advance, so it’s imperative you start to consider where you want to apply and establish when you’ll need to submit your application. Firm websites will hold the necessary information on when to apply and should form an early part of your research.

How do I improve my chances of getting a training contract?

Law vacation schemes are a great way to strengthen a training contract application. Not only does a vacation scheme allow you to gain first hand experience of a firm, you’re also in a unique position to establish a relationship with the organisation. This could go a long way to strengthening an application as many firms recruit from their vacation scheme pool.

Undertaking work experience or pro bono work is another way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. You’ll have real life legal experience to draw upon which can strengthen your application.

Networking is also another useful way of gaining an insight into what firms are looking for. Attend law fairs and open days and introduce yourself to the people representing the firms you have an interest in applying to. Don’t be afraid to ask questions too.

If you study with us you’ll also have access to our Employability Service, who can offer everything from careers advice and support with applications, to helping find pro bono opportunities, establishing connections in the legal profession and securing a training contract.

Is it difficult to find a training contract?

Theres no denying that finding a training contract can be difficult. There’s a lot of competition for training contract positions, but, if you’re both prepared and persistent, you’ll significantly increase your chances. It’s important to remain positive – don’t be discouraged by rejections. Use them to improve and hone your future applications and interviews.

What happens after a training contract?

After you’ve completed your training contract you’ll be eligible for solicitor qualification with the SRA, though there are a couple of smaller steps still required in order to register.

First of all, you’ll need to take the Professional Skills Course (PSC), however this is usually completed during your period of recognised training. The PSC is a 12 day legal training course with core modules on Advocacy and Communication Skills, Client Care and Professional Standards and Financial and Business Skills, and four elective modules which will likely focus on areas of interest which serve your career.

The final stage is meeting the Character and Suitability rules outlined by the SRA which is done when you apply for admission.

For many aspiring lawyers the end of your training contract marks the start of your career as a solicitor. Many firms will retain the solicitors they’ve trained, that said, once you’re qualified, you can choose to pursue a legal career in whichever way you wish.


Find out more about our LPC and SQE courses by exploring our extensive range of postgraduate law courses and enrol today.