Your application timeline: key dates for getting hired as a trainee solicitor

Commercial law firms tend to recruit trainee solicitors up to two years in advance, so you'll need to plan ahead to get a training contract and launch your graduate career in law.

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Deadlines for training contract applications vary and some firms (mainly smaller, high street firms) have a rolling application deadline rather than a final cut off date, but either way, you'll need to plan ahead.

Application checklist: second-year law or final-year non-law students


Winter, Christmas vacation and spring


Application checklist: final year law students or conversion course year


  • Finalise your funding options and be clear about closing dates for funding applications.
  • Be available for interviews. Don’t forget to reread your applications beforehand.
  • Apply for the legal practice course (LPC).


  • Enrol with the Law Society. You must be a student member to do the LPC.
  • Get organised for your exams. Legal practice requires a sharp intellect and graduate recruiters in law firms expect to see evidence of a consistently strong academic record on your training contract application. If there are or have been genuine mitigating circumstances affecting your exam results, make sure you mention these on your application.


  • Acceptance deadline for LPC place.
  • Make the most of opportunities to gain relevant experience.

Gap years for graduates who want training contracts

Many firms are happy for you to take a gap year before starting your training contract and a number offer training contracts beginning in March as well as September, but if you do want time out you'll want to plan for it in advance and use it well, as having unexpected time on your hands can put pressure on your finances as well as creating a potentially awkward gap in your CV. Attending recruiters’ events and law fairs will help you keep on top of deadlines as you’ll be able to ask questions and check application deadlines in recruitment literature.

Making your own bespoke application calendar is one way to keep track of what you need to do and when. Discuss your ideas with a careers adviser and consider mapping out your plans alongside the crucial dates on a large sheet of paper.

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