Trainee associate programme

About the programme
Our trainee associates are the future, so it’s only right that we invest in them. When you join the Trainee Associate Programme at HSF, you’ll work on high-profile cases, network with prestigious clients, and undergo specialist knowledge, skills and mindset training through our Business Skills Academy. You’ll be elevated in your personal life too, with fantastic benefits and Support Networks designed to help trainees from a diversity of backgrounds. Your new career starts here.


Our work can be challenging, complex, and critical to some of the world’s leading organisations. Our trainees and associates are compensated well.
A £50,000 starting salary for all new lawyers
Progress to £55,000 in your second year
Newly-qualified lawyers earn a base salary of £120,000
Education The route to qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales is changing with the introduction of the SQE. This has given us the unique opportunity to partner with BPP University Law School to create the market-leading City Consortium Solicitor Training Programme. The programme will:

  • Provide you with the optimum preparation to pass the new SQE assessments
  • Equip you with the knowledge, technical and interpersonal skills you’ll need for your career at HSF

You’ll be supported throughout by BPP’s expert tutors and their state-of-the-art EdTech, including:
  • A personalised adaptive learning platform
  • Simulated SQE assessment practice with thousands of multiple-choice questions
  • A virtual law firm to enhance your digital, commercial and legal skills
Seats HSF is one of the only firms which allows trainee associates to select seat preferences ahead of rotation, meaning that you can truly pursue your interests here. Across four, six-month seats, you’ll develop specialist skills and a thorough understanding of our different sectors. We offer seats in dispute resolution, corporate, finance, competition, regulation and trade, intellectual property, employment, pensions and incentives and tax.
Secondments International and client secondments are a vital part of your development: we offer around 55 each year to our trainee associates. Secondments to our overseas offices in Europe, Asia and Australia are an opportunity to spend six months expanding your global network. We offer the highest number of client secondment opportunities in the City because we believe it gives you the chance to develop a client-focused outlook and build client relationship skills as you spend time working side-by-side with them.
The Trainee Business Development Committee
Trainees interested in growing their business development skills can join the Trainee Business Development Committee (TBDC). Comprised wholly of trainee associates, it provides a connection to client relationship teams and runs internal training sessions. Joining the TBDC is a great way to network with clients and shape the firm’s future early in your career.
Pro bono Regardless of your current seat, all trainee associates are encouraged to get involved with our pro bono work. Not long after you join, you’ll be enrolled on a training programme through the Whitechapel Legal Advice Clinic. You’ll learn how to provide expert advice on employment, debt, housing and consumer law matters. Through the clinic, our trainees make a tangible difference to people’s lives.
Pro bono seats We take our social responsibilities seriously at HSF. For trainee associates looking to make a real, positive difference, we have the option to take a seat in Environmental, Social and Governance, or a pro bono secondment to our in-house legal teams at charities and Non-Governmental Organisations.
Support and qualification Our investment in our trainee associates’ futures includes close mentorship and support from lawyers who have been in your shoes. You’ll share an office with a senior associate, who will supervise your personal and professional development at HSF. During your seats, you’ll receive dual supervision to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your experience. Finally, you’ll have access to a partner mentor and a dedicated trainee HR team, who will meet with you regularly and provide extra guidance, resources and support if needed.


We want to retain as many trainee associates as possible, which means looking after your professional and personal development both. Here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy during your first years at HSF.
Law school fees paid for or reimbursed if you have self-funded
£17,000 grant on the SQE
£10,000 grant on the London PGDL (£9,000 outside of London)  
Sports and social clubs
25 days’ annual leave, plus travel insurance
Private medical insurance and corporate GP service
Interest-free season ticket loan
Cycle-to-work scheme
Gadget insurance
Permanent health insurance
Subsidised office restaurant and café and free dinner when working after 6.30pm
Confidential employee assistance programme
Generous pension contributions
Dental insurance
Life assurance and critical illness cover
Free eye tests
Access to a mortgage broker
Exclusive corporate discounts

Our Trainee Associate programme

At Herbert Smith Freehills we recognise that talented people grow best by experiencing work which excites, challenges and stretches them whilst receiving the appropriate blend of support and structured learning to ensure they thrive. We believe that your growth will define our success as a firm. That's why we've kept it front of mind when designing our Trainee Associate Programme.

Related links

Your journey starts before you join us. Explore our opportunities to find out more about us and see whether a career with us is right for you.
Any questions?
View a selection of frequently asked questions about life at the firm and our range of opportunities.