What we offer

£50k starting salary and comprehensive benefits package
84% of trainees go on client or international secondments
We’re leaders in inclusion with eight diversity networks
We doubled our number of FTSE clients since 2015 to a total of 128

What we look for

Half of our trainees didn't study law as an undergraduate degree. You could be one of them. Some of our trainees have started an alternative career before moving into law. Whatever your background, if you have intellectual agility, personal impact and a relentless drive to do great work, you’ll love every minute here. So show us what you’ve got.  

How to apply

Step one

Application form

This is your opportunity to tell us about your academic credentials, the skills you’ve gained from extracurricular 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
  • Three written questions (each up to a maximum of 300 words):
    1. Introduce us to a topic you know about and explain why it interests you
    2. Explain why you’re interested in pursuing a career at Herbert Smith Freehills 
    3. What skills, qualities and attributes would you bring to the role?

If you require any reasonable adjustments to be made within the application process please let us know by emailing the graduate recruitment team ([email protected]). We understand it may be difficult to talk about your disability however, we want to support you through the process to ensure you have the best chance of success. All conversations will be treated confidentially.


  • Before you start, think about the skills needed and how to show them.
  • Give us a breakdown of all your A-Levels (or equivalent), undergraduate module results and any postgraduate results, including from Law School. We’re looking for consistent 2:1s, but we’ll always take mitigating circumstances into account.
  • If you didn’t 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.
  • When telling us about your extra-curricular activities and work experience, please use a narrative form, rather than a list of bullet points. Give us a few examples of how you were involved, the skills you gained and why this is relevant to your application. 
  • Stick to the word limit.
  • If you don’t have legal work experience, tell us about the skills you have that are relevant to a career in law.
  • Let us know if you’ve attended open days, live chats or met us at a virtual event or law fair.
  • Check your spelling and grammar. 
  • Keep a copy of your form. You may be questioned about it. Also, make a note of any reference number, just in case you must follow it up later.
  • Make the most of every part of the form: the narrative section is just as important as your academic record. We’re looking for well-rounded individuals.
Step two

Online test

The online test comprises three types of question: situational-judgment (SJT), verbal reasoning and personality/behavioural questions. The SJT questions are bespoke to Herbert Smith Freehills and are reflective of the type of scenarios 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 considered during scoring.

If you usually receive extra time or adjustments when taking online tests or during exams, please email the graduate recruitment team ([email protected]) so that we can make the necessary adjustment(s).

Take a practice test

Step three

Assessment day

Our assessment centre includes three elements, designed to showcase your potential as a future lawyer. If you require any reasonable adjustments to be made for the assessment centre, please let us know as soon as you can beforehand by including this on your application form and emailing the graduate recruitment team ([email protected]). We understand it may be difficult to talk about your disability, however we want to support you and ensure you have the best chance of success. 


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 with a partner.


Discuss your motivations and show you have the key skills required with a senior associate.

Preparing for the assessment day

  • Before you attend, we recommend you do the following:
  • Be comfortable with what you’ve written and be prepared to answer questions about it.
  • Make sure that whatever subject you talk about you know well and can talk clearly and intelligently about. 
  • Research our firm and think about why you’re particularly interested in joining us.
  • Be prepared to talk about why you’re particularly interested in a career in commercial law. 
  • Gain as much exposure as possible to our people through presentations, workshops, informal networking sessions or university-held events. 
  • Attend mock interview sessions at your university.
  • Think about what you’d 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. 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:

Key dates

Take a look at the key application dates.

Vacation Schemes

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


(Finalists and graduates)

Applications open: September 2023

Scheme: December 2023


(Penultimate-year students, finalists and graduates)

Applications open: September 2023

Scheme: April 2024


(Penultimate-year students, finalists and graduates)

Applications open: September 2023

Schemes: June – July 2024

First Year Opportunities


(First-year Rare Candidates)

Applications open: 1 October 2022 – 31 January 2023


(First-year students)

Applications open: 1 – 31 January 2023

Scheme: 3 – 4 April 2023, 17 – 18 April 2023


(First-year students)

Applications open: 1 – 31 January 2023

Scheme: 1 September 2023 – March 2024

Open Days

Build in-depth knowledge at our open days.


Autumn 2023 

Applications open: September 2023


Autumn 2023 

Applications open: September 2023


Autumn 2023 

Applications open: September 2023


Autumn 2023 

Applications open: September 2023


Autumn 2023 

Applications open: September 2023

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.