TARGETjobs black logo

Annual Legal Trainee Scheme

*Applications open on 1st July 2019*


Government departments recruit legal trainees (trainee solicitors and pupil barristers) each year via the Government Legal Profession’s Legal Trainee Scheme - usually two years in advance. However, a number of places are also likely to be available for those looking to start their training sooner. 

In early July 2019, we will be advertising 60 or more legal trainee positions (training contracts & pupillages) on the Government Legal Profession's website. The deadline date for applications will be late July 2019. To ensure that you are notified as soon as the application process opens, you can add your contact details to the mailing list on the Government Legal Profession's website.

The departments which typically offer legal trainee positions are given below:

  • Government Legal Department (GLD)
  • Government Legal Department - Commercial Law Group
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
  • Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)
  • National Crime Agency (NCA)

The majority of the legal trainee positions are based in London. However, GLD may additionally offer positions in Leeds. There may also be a possibility to undertake a ‘seat’ in Manchester with HMRC.

If you reach the final stage of the recruitment process, you will be given an opportunity to express a preference for joining one of these departments. If you are successful, your legal training will be the responsibility of that department.

Departments aim to offer all those recruited as legal trainees a permanent qualified lawyer position on successful completion of the training period, although this can never be guaranteed.

Eligibility criteria: You will need to have (or be predicted to obtain) a minimum of a 2:2 in an undergraduate degree (or have satisfied the academic requirements of the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority or Bar Standards Board by other means). Your undergraduate degree does not have to be in law. You will also need to meet the Civil Service Nationality requirements.

Training programme

The training period (whether you are looking to qualify as a solicitor or barrister) will be for two years. Departments do not take into account previous training completed elsewhere. 

Whilst the broad structure of the training may be similar to what you will find elsewhere, the nature of the work is likely to be very different. You will experience a range of interesting legal work – and may have the opportunity to participate in the legislative process itself. 

You will be given early responsibility and will undertake real work for real clients from an early stage. As a lot of government work requires conversations with the devolved administrations, some trainees may have the opportunity to complete placements with the devolved administrations in Cardiff and Edinburgh.

Training contract structure

The nature of your training will vary according to the department you have been recruited to. Generally speaking, you’ll spend time in 4 main areas of practice (known as ‘seats’). Each seat lasts 6 months. You can expect to have two advisory and two litigation seats. 

If you have a particular interest in Commercial law and would like to complete your training contract in this area, i.e. working across the teams providing commercial services to various client departments, you may wish to consider applying for the training contracts available within GLD’s Commercial Law Group.

Pupillage structure

The structure of the training period may vary between departments (i.e GLD and HMRC). 

During the pupillage period (first 12 months) your time will be split between your department and a set of external barristers’ chambers. 

You’ll be involved in the wide range of work in which your department and chambers are involved in. You’ll attend court, initially with your supervisor, carry out research for other lawyers and draft opinions. 

Government departments use the services of external counsel for much of their court work. This means that legal trainees get the opportunity to work with and learn from experienced panel counsel who are leading experts in their respective fields. Barristers working within government departments are given the opportunity to conduct cases in tribunals or courts but the extent of that opportunity can vary between departments and teams. Candidates wishing to focus principally on an advocacy career should bear this in mind. 

Sponsorship/ Course fees

Generally departments will pay your Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) fees where you have not yet started the course, at the time of accepting an offer. 

There is no preference which Law or Bar School you attend, or, to the electives you undertake as part of the course. 

You may be eligible for a grant of about £5,400 (National) to £7,600 (London) for the vocational year if you intend to study for your LPC or BPTC on a full-time, or possibly part-time, basis. You’ll need to discuss your eligibility for a grant with the department at the offer stage. 

Unfortunately, departments will be unable to provide funding for the Graduate Diploma in Law course.


*Applications open on 1st July 2019*

Remember to mention TARGETjobs when contacting employers!