What we offer

£45k starting salary and comprehensive benefits package
90% of trainees go on client or international secondments
We’re leaders in inclusion with seven diversity networks
A chance to spend 10 days working on bringing your innovative idea to life

What we look for

You don’t need to have studied law to apply: we recruit from all disciplines. In fact, around half of our trainees didn't study law as an undergraduate degree.

We’re looking for a unique combination of skills and potential. That means more than a great academic record; it takes confidence, empathy, diligence, drive, and an international mind-set.

How to apply

Step one

Application form

This is your opportunity to tell us about your academic credentials, the skills you’ve gained from extra-curricular activities and work experience, and why you have the motivation and potential to become a great Herbert Smith Freehills lawyer

Completing the form

We ask you to complete the following information in our form:

  • Academic achievements and grades (A-level onwards)
  • Work experience history
  • Two written questions (each up to a maximum of 300 words):
    • Introduce us to a topic you know about and explain why it interests you.
    • Explain why you are interested in pursuing a career at Herbert Smith Freehills and what skills, qualities and attributes you would bring to the role.
  • Before you start, think about the skills needed and how to show them.
  • Look for the specified criteria. This is particularly true for academic requirements. If you don’t meet them, think about whether you should be applying. If you finished your studies some time ago, your academics may be less relevant than your subsequent work experience.
  • You will need to give us a breakdown of all of your A levels (or equivalent), undergraduate module results and any postgraduate results, including from Law School. We are looking for consistent 2:1s but we will always take mitigating circumstances into account.
  • If you did not study in the UK, please input your grades and, to help us contextualise your achievements, tell us a bit about the grading system in the ‘further information’ section. We receive many applications from all over the world and have familiarity with many overseas qualifications. If we don't know, we can find out from our network.
  • When telling us about your extra-curricular activities and work experience, please use a narrative form, rather than a list of bullet points. For each activity or role, give us a few examples of how you were involved, the skills you gained and think about why this could be relevant to your application to us.
  • Where we have a word limit, make sure you are concise and sensible about what you include.
  • You do not need to have legal work experience to get an interview for a vacation scheme. We recommend that, when describing your legal and non-legal work experience, you tell us about the skills you gained that are relevant to a career in law with us.
  • If you have attended law fairs, open days or met us at an event, let us know. Taking the time to meet us helps to show your motivation.
  • Don’t talk about your skills in a list. It is much better to use your experiences to highlight the skills you have learnt and how they are relevant to a career in law.
  • Check your spelling and grammar. Ask someone else to read over your form.
  • Keep a copy of your form. If you’re invited to an assessment day, you’ll need a good knowledge of the examples on your form as you may be questioned about them. Also, make a note of any reference number, just in case you have to follow it up later.
  • Remember the purpose of the application form is to highlight your breadth of skills and suitability for the position at our firm. Make sure you make the most of every part of the form: the narrative section is just as important as your academic record. We are looking for well-rounded individuals.
Step two

Online test

The online test comprises of three types of question: situational-judgment, verbal reasoning and personality / behavioural questions. The SJT questions are bespoke to Herbert Smith Freehills and are reflective of the types of scenario trainees can expect to experience if they were to join the firm. The blended nature of the test is designed to enable applicants to demonstrate their problem-solving and verbal reasoning skills, as well as their approach to scenarios relevant to the work at the firm.

The test takes approximately 30 – 35 minutes, although there is no strict time limit so candidates may complete the assessment at their own speed. The completion time is, however, recorded and will be taken into account during scoring.

If you usually receive extra time or adjustments when taking online tests or during exams please email Anna O'Dwyer at [email protected] so that we can adjust your test time accordingly.

Take a practice test

Step three

Assessment day

Our assessment centre comprises three elements, designed to showcase your potential as a future lawyer.


Engage with a real case study and present your thoughts to a partner.


Think on your feet when presented with a real-life commercial scenario.


Discuss your motivations and show you have the key skills required.

Preparing for the assessment day

Before you attend, we recommend you do the following.

  • Thoroughly review your application. Be comfortable with what you have written and be prepared to answer questions about it.
  • Think about the types of questions you may be asked. Make sure that whatever you decide to talk about in the interview, you know the subject well and can talk clearly and intelligently about it.
  • Research our firm and think about why you are particularly interested in joining us. Find out what major deals/matters we have been involved in and ask yourself why working on these matters appeals to you.
  • Be prepared to talk about why you are particularly interested in a career in commercial law. How have you come to make this decision?
  • Gain as much exposure as possible to our people. You can do this by attending our presentations, workshops, informal networking sessions or any other events that we run either at your university or in our offices.
  • Attend mock interview sessions at your university.
  • Interviews are a two-way process: you should want to find out about us as well. Think about what you would like to know about us. At the end of each interview, there will be time for you to ask questions.

Attending an assessment centre can be a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve put together a short video to give you an idea of what to expect at one of our assessment centres, offer some top tips to allow you to perform at your best and give details on each stage of the process:

  • A case study interview with one of our Partners
  • A competency interview with one of our Senior Associates
  • A scenario-based interview with one of our Partners

Register interest

Key dates

Take a look at the key application dates.

First year workshops

Get to know us over two days at the firm.


1-31 January 2021


29 – 30 March 2021 and 12 – 13 April 2021

Campus ambassadors

Represent our firm and build your network.


1-31 January 2021

Vacation schemes

Immerse yourself in our work and interview for a training contract at the end of the scheme.

Winter (finalists and graduates)


14 September – 9 October 2020


30 November  – 11 December 2020 (assessment centres from end-October to mid-November)

Spring and summer (penultimate year students, finalists and graduates):


14 September – 14 December 2020


6-16 April 2021 (spring), 14 June – 2 July 2021 (summer, scheme 1) and 5-23  July 2021 (summer, scheme 2)

Open days

Build in-depth knowledge at our open days.

Disputes Open Day


14 September - 11 October 2020


25 November 2020

Innovation Open Day


14 September – 11 October 2020


11 November 2020

Apply online

If you’re ready to apply to our firm, you can begin the process here. We recommend that you carefully read through all of our advice and content before doing so: this will give you the best chance of making your application successful.