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Training contract applications: Researching law firms

When it comes to applying for training contracts and vacation schemes, one of the first things to do is to research the firm which you are applying for. Whether you’re applying for an international magic circle firm or a regional firm, it helps to have some background insight into the firm before you apply.

There are many considerations to take into account when choosing which firm to apply for. The problem is, how do you find out answers to these considerations? Aside from the obvious route of going to the firm’s graduate recruitment website, here are a few sources of information.

Legal Cheek

Legal Cheek is a website which provides a less-formal approach to providing legal news and updates. It contains profiles of many different firms which give you a quick overview of some of their key statistics.

It also has a helpful dedicated section called ‘The Firms Most List‘ which includes many of the UK’s leading legal firms. Within this, you have the option of ranking them based on several factors. Factors include the number of target hours, number of training contracts, earliest arrival/leave times and most retained trainees.

Within this list, you can select different firm profiles which contains a brief description of the firm. These descriptions also helpfully include details of the typical work/life balance at the firm. This is something which the firm’s graduate recruitment website is less likely to touch upon.

Each firm profile contains an ‘Insider Scorecard’ which scores the firms from A* to D in multiple categories. This helps to give a quick indication of what sort of working environment the firm has. Be aware that the data is gathered from a survey which may not be entirely representative.

Below this, you’ll find subsections providing you with basic statistics regarding:

  • Salaries and maintenance grants
  • Average working hours
  • Chances of secondment
  • Trainee retention rates
  • Diversity statistics
  • Universities which current trainees attended


RollOnFriday is a similar website to Legal Cheek, providing a less formal insight into legal news and updates. Within the site is an ‘Inside Info‘ page which provides a list of several law firms. The list can be ranked according to multiple factors as seen in Legal Cheek.

RollOnFriday also score each firm based on a multitude of factors including career development, work/life balance and even the quality of their snacks! However, it’s unclear as to how the data is sourced, so do take it with a pinch of salt!

Each firm has a corresponding profile which gives some information on what sort of work the firm is involved in. It also includes opinions of the firm from employees, providing a brief insight into the life at the firm.

Chambers Student

This is likely to be one of the more reliable and more formal websites from which you can find out more about law firms. As with all the other sites mentioned here, each firm has a profile called a ‘True Picture’. This focuses on the type of work that the law firm is involved in. Additionally, it goes into some detail on the work/life balance and lifestyle/culture of the firm.

You might also find Chambers Student useful in picking out other related firms. At the bottom of the ‘True Picture’ you’ll find links to other firms which are similar in size and practice area.

In addition to the ‘True Picture’, each firm has a ‘Get Hired’ page. This nicely outlines the process of applying for training contracts and vacation schemes. Some firm profiles might even include an interview with a graduate recruitment partner, regarding the process. This is likely to be a useful starting point when preparing for assessment days too.

On top of this, each firm has a ‘Firm Profile’ tab which lists the basic statistics of each firm, including the number of partners, UK offices, Salary and benefits etc.

Chambers and Partners

The firm profiles on this site are the most brief, but concisely summarise the main practice areas of the firm. Each profile outlines the principal areas of work which is a good starting point for you to understand whether the type of work aligns with your interests.

Additionally, each profile contains a ‘Ranked Departments’ tab which ranks each of the firm’s departments in a band, depending on its level of expertise. Chambers and Partners is generally a more reliable source since its data is collated through more extensive research.

For some firm profiles, you may also find a different summary of practice areas depending on the location. This might be insightful if you’re looking to do an international secondment.

Law Fairs/Careers Fairs/Open Days

Ultimately, researching a firm online can only get you so far. If you have the opportunity, go to law/careers fairs to speak to graduate recruitment representatives from the firms. When you do this, make sure you have some questions ready to show that you’ve done your research.

If the firm offers open days, it’s a good idea to apply and attend. Going to the firm itself will give you a much better feel of the work environment. It will be as close as you can get to experiencing the firm without applying for a vacation scheme. As mentioned previously, these are good opportunities to speak to current trainees on their experiences. You can also meet other potential applicants and find out whether they have had experiences in other firms which you haven’t yet considered.

Together, these resources can help direct your research and potentially give you an edge when applying to law firms. Law firms want to know whether you’ve done your research on them, so it helps to have knowledge of the firm from sources outside of their graduate recruitment website.

Keep up with the work and good luck with the applications!

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