Read on to find out more about Herbert Smith Freehills’ training contracts and top tips from Mary Carpenter, Graduate Recruitment Manager, on how to stand out in your training contract application.

Could you tell us about Herbert Smith Freehills?

Deals and mergers. Arbitration and advocacy. Litigation and disputes. We’ve got it all.

Because we’re one of the world’s leading law firms, we also work with some of the biggest international organisations on some of their most ambitious projects. Herbert Smith Freehills is a place where you won’t just experience everything, you’ll be a part of it.

What do Herbert Smith Freehills vacation schemes involve?

Our vacation schemes are a great introduction to life at Herbert Smith Freehills. Not only will you gain first-hand experience working at a leading global law firm, but you’ll get paid while you do it.

During your placement, you’ll sit in the same room as a partner or an associate and be given real work for real clients. You’ll be involved in workshops and presentations from the beginning, giving you an exciting chance to gain real insight into the depth and breadth of our practice areas.

You’ll also work as part of a team on a project related to our pro bono and citizenship work.


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Could you tell us about the Herbert Smith Freehills training contract programme?

On our two-year training programme, you’ll develop skills across a range of practice areas and get stuck into real work for real clients – giving you the experience you’ll need to make your career with us a success.

The programme itself is extremely varied. Working alongside some of the world’s best lawyers, you’ll rotate through four six-month seats in different practice areas and spend valuable time in both corporate and dispute resolution.

Over 90% of our trainees go on either a client or international secondment, but you can also choose to experience finance, real estate, or a specialist practice area like employment, pensions and incentives, competition, regulation and trade, tax or intellectual property.

Wherever you spend your time, you’ll be doing work of real value and be valued for your contribution.

Could you tell us a bit about what you’re looking for in candidates for your training contract programme?

What we’re after is exceptional people with the desire and ability to become truly brilliant lawyers. You don’t need to have studied law to apply – we recruit from a whole range of academic backgrounds.

There’s more to it than just a great academic record. We’re looking for students with key skills such as perceptiveness, empathy and diligence.

What advice would you give to those applying for training contracts at Herbert Smith Freehills?

The most important thing in an application is motivation. Make it clear why you want to work for Herbert Smith Freehills, and make sure everything in your application supports this.

Applications that seem generic – as though they could be submitted to any firm – are a red flag. Learn about us, our values and our background in advance.

Remember it’s a two-way process. Before an interview, think about who you’ll be meeting and what questions you could ask them. This is your chance to get to know us and make sure Herbert Smith Freehills is right for you.

Asking partners about their experiences can give you a real insight into what might be in store for you here.

Remember to practise the online Watson Glaser test. It’s just one test, but it’s designed to assess your verbal reasoning, so it’s important that you do well. There are plenty of practice packages you can use to familiarise yourself.

Extra-curricular interests are of real interest to us. We want to know about what you’ve experienced and how you’ve learned from these. But remember to keep it relevant – rather than a long list of accomplishments, we’re looking for what it is about your life experiences that makes you a good fit for Herbert Smith Freehills.

We’re looking for individuals. We don’t have a fixed idea about what a trainee should be ‘like’.

It’s very important at Herbert Smith Freehills that people feel as though they can be themselves, so we try and bring that out in the application process. Remember to relax and be yourself.

And don’t forget to look for typos! Check and double-check before you apply.


How can candidates apply to your Herbert Smith Freehills trainee programme?

Our application process is simple and quick. It involves just three steps.

  1. Complete an application form – we want to know your academic credentials, language skills, work experience and what experiences have motivated you to become a lawyer.
  2. Take an online Watson Glaser / verbal reasoning test.
  3. Visit our assessment centre. You’ll take part in a group exercise, be interviewed, and tackle a case study exercise. You’ll also have the opportunity to tour our offices, meet some of our trainees, and have lunch with a senior partner.

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