Internships and placements

Dynamic Clifford Chance is transforming the legal internship experience

21 Jun 2023, 15:41

Find out how this global and award-winning law firm is breaking down barriers to a legal career and seeking out brilliant interns and trainees, regardless of background.

A picture of current and future trainees at Clifford Chance, who have joined the firm through its work experience initiatives

As a top-ranking law firm Clifford Chance isn’t resting on its (considerable) laurels in the quest to find up-and-coming talent and help promising students develop their legal careers. With new recruitment initiatives, an inclusive outlook and online courses, Clifford Chance has developed helpful stepping stones and multiple entry points for would-be lawyers, starting with schools outreach programmes, through university and on to its stellar working environment. It really is transforming the world of internships and work experience, ensuring that talented students from all backgrounds can find their place at a pioneering, top-drawer law firm.

What gets you buzzing?

If you’re already committed to a career in commercial law, you’ll have some idea of your ideal workplace – you may even have a shortlist of firms to apply to. Perhaps your ideal is an organisation that embraces teamwork while celebrating differences and innovative thinking. Maybe you’re determined to practise law in an international environment, with serious projects and seriously interesting cases on your books. You might get a buzz spending time with associates and partners who combine expertise in law with critical thinking, while sharing your values. Your wish list could include helping pro-bono clients whose business acumen combines with charitable insights. Or maybe your goal is to feel backed by an HR team that appreciates all your promise and potential whatever your quirks and questions.

If you want to know what it takes to become a lawyer and why Clifford Chance is considered a world-class place to begin, check out the firm’s range of online learning resources. These include global virtual internship programmes to increase your knowledge as you receive unrivalled insights into this challenging world of work. Every resource has been developed by experts with school pupils’ or undergraduates’ futures in mind, with broad categories covered via video, podcast and online courses. You can read, watch and listen to interviews and tips delivered by real people working in the areas you want to join.

Discover more about Clifford Chance’s virtual internships .

Start wherever you are

Clifford Chance’s social mobility programmes are open to school-age pupils. If you’re currently in years 12 and 13 (the 16-plus age group) you may be eligible to begin your legal career through ACCESS . As a founding member of PRIME, an alliance of law firms widening access to the profession, Clifford Chance looks for talent, enthusiasm and contextual academic achievement. Qualifying criteria include receiving free school meals, being in care or being a carer, or arriving in the UK as an asylum seeker or refugee. Candidates learn what is needed to become a commercial lawyer, guided with the same dedication and care that is applied to the firm’s award-winning graduate schemes.

‘Often there’s a requirement to have a certain amount of social capital to gain internships. The LIFT scheme does an immense amount to offer potential applicants and LIFT trainees experience which they may not otherwise have had.’

Joe Hing – Invictus Games Foundation LIFT intern and Clifford Chance trainee 2022.

Discover more about Clifford Chance’s ACCESS scheme .

Shine and learn

What’s behind Clifford Chance’s success and how is it transforming the internship experience? It comes from the belief that talent doesn’t come from one place. It’s worth noting that some of Clifford Chance’s offers are made a full year before most under its award-winning scheme SPARK – bypassing the merry-go-round ride that was once the only way to secure a training contract.

Discover more about Clifford Chance’s SPARK scheme .

Every Clifford Chance programme has been developed meticulously, no matter when or how a trainee gains entry. So, you’ll still need to shine to secure an internship and training contract here – Clifford Chance wants to employ the best – but you can stop worrying about where you’ve come from and concentrate on where you’re going.

Expect the firm to stretch your mind and make you think more deeply. You’ll work hard and play hard, and in return you’ll be paid and expertly mentored as you train. What’s more, you’ll be supported you as you realise your ambitions.

‘I would say, be prepared to not know anything for a long time – and that’s OK.’

Tolu Ojo-Williams , debt capital markets lawyer.

Learn more than the law

Without realising, you may have been building up your future business acumen by involving yourself in something that you’re passionate about. Perhaps you volunteer with a charity or social enterprise, you have an interesting side-hustle, you’re a gifted sportsperson or you’re an accomplished musician.

Learn more about the backgrounds of previous SPARK scheme students .

Through Learning Internships for Future Trainees (LIFT) Clifford Chance promotes the benefits of transferable skills. Lift interns are employed on meaningful paid programmes within partnered organisations, broadening their horizons as they do so. Future trainees (students who have already secured a training contract) have found new perspectives and skills working to:

  • create branding for the Invictus Games Foundation, which supports sick and injured ex-servicemen and women
  • break down inequality and barriers to education for disadvantaged children through Peppo Tutors
  • create promotional materials with women in law charity Spark21
  • enhance their tech abilities with start-up Neota Logic.

Play to your strengths

If you have a penchant for coding, an interest in FinTech or you’re the go-to undergraduate for gaming shortcuts and you want to combine your enthusiasm for technology with a career in law, Clifford Chance could be the perfect fit for you. Clifford Chance’s IGNITE training contract invites you to explore the connections between tech and law, perhaps by training artificial intelligence in the nuances of risk assessment, or developing new areas of legal tech to help clients, entrepreneurs and fellow lawyers. If this sounds like your forte, the firm wants to meet you.

Find out more about Clifford Chance’s IGNITE internships .


Unique is not a word to be used lightly, but at Clifford Chance you won’t find a ‘type’ though you will meet people who think like you, look like you, and who practise the same faith as you – or none. The firm fosters an encouraging culture, listening to people who have found success despite adversity and adapting and innovating to change how and who it recruits in order to include people from every kind of background.. As Tyra Ntege a current trainee and previous SPARK scheme student says, ‘I could see myself there; I couldn’t see myself at very many other places.’

‘You want to work at a place that you have the same opportunity to succeed as anyone else. Equality of opportunity doesn’t mean you will all have the same experience.’

Roy Appiah , senior associate in the litigation team.

Be your true self

For more than a decade Clifford Chance has been at forefront of recruitment diversity. The firm encourages students to show their whole selves and proudly helps LGBTQ+ undergraduates through its ACCEPT conference and workshops. It leads by example with strong, visible and supportive senior figures within and beyond the legal world standing up and telling their stories.

‘CC was a firm that never made you feel like you had to be brave just to be yourself. It always encouraged you to bring your whole self to work.’

Aritha Wickramasinghe Financial Times number one ranked LGBT future leader and former Clifford Chance trainee and associate.

Get on board

If you want to learn more about Clifford Chance’s pioneering approach and find out how to secure one of its world-class training contracts, visit its extensive careers website and YouTube channel. Become part of a diverse, encouraging, inclusive, award-winning and supportive culture – a commercial legal expert fostering a highly collaborative outlook, practising the law and making a difference to the future.

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