We view you as the partners of the future, so it goes without saying that your development is incredibly important to us.

Our full service practice and extensive work for international clients means you’ll enjoy a varied training contract across contentious and non-contentious departments.

As well as getting exposure to a huge breadth of work, you’ll be supported to grow your career and reach your goals with flexible training and development plans. Individually designed, these plans will allow you to gain experience in all areas and help you find what's best for you and your career.



There are two ways you can get to know Herbert Smith Freehills in your first year. You can apply to attend one of our first-year workshops and you can also apply to become one of our campus ambassadors in your second year.


Our vacation schemes are a great way to find out what life at Herbert Smith Freehills is really like. We offer schemes in the winter, spring and summer. If you accept a place on either our spring or  summer schemes, you can apply to spend an additional period of time in one of our international offices.

You may equally decide to apply to us directly for a training contract. It's entirely up to you.

Law school

If you’re a non-law graduate or international law graduate, you’ll need to do a conversion course called the GDL. You will enjoy the following benefits:

  • A maintenance grant of £8,000 p.a. in London; (£7,000 p.a. outside London)
  • Course fees (including reimbursement if you have already completed the course)
  • Advice on relocating to London

At present, we ask you to study the GDL at BPP Law School in London, Leeds or Manchester. If you have studied the GDL somewhere else already, that is no problem.


Following the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) by the SRA, we will ensure that we support all future trainees through this process and we are currently working with course providers and the SRA to ensure your training needs are met.

Learning and Development


At the start of each seat you will attend a divisional or departmental induction. These will cover all the technical requirements of the area of the firm you are about to join. Plus, you’ll need to undertake a legal research exercise.


The trainee development centre is a two-day programme involving a range of activities designed to support and reinforce the key skills and behaviours expected of trainees at Herbert Smith Freehills. Using our internal facilitation and coaching expertise, we will help you reflect on what you want and what you need to achieve your career aspirations. This programme will help you take responsibility for your own career and personal reputation.


The professional skills course is a compulsory course, largely prescribed by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. The PSC comprises three core courses:

  • Client care and professional standards
  • Financial and business skills
  • Advocacy and communication skills



In addition to experiencing a wide variety of challenging work across a broad range of practice areas, you’ll take part in our integrated client programme as a trainee. This programme will see you allocated a client for the duration of your training contract - you will work closely with the relevant client relationship team to deliver client team objectives, carry out research and take part in client events.

"The integrated client programme is one of the many unique aspects of a training contract at Herbert Smith Freehills. It is a tremendously enriching aspect of legal professional training, providing an early insight into how strong, multi-jurisdictional and long-lasting client relationships are nurtured and deepened." Prasan Dhar, Associate

Trainee Seats


Prior to joining, you'll submit your first seat preferences. Your first two weeks with us will be devoted to a comprehensive induction to the firm, plus an additional induction to the division or department you’re joining.


During your training contract you are required to do one seat in each of the corporate and dispute resolution divisions in London. Mid-way through your first seat we’ll start discussing where you would like to go for your second. You can meet representatives from across the firm to help you make your decision.


International secondments provide excellent exposure to the global network of the firm. You’ll be there to work, but you’ll also have the chance to be a part of the country and the culture. International secondments for trainees are currently available in Sydney, Paris, Brussels, Moscow, Dubai, Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo.


Depending on where you have worked during your training contract to date you might consider a client secondment for one of your seats. Opportunities currently include:

  • BAE
  • EDF
  • Heathrow Airport Ltd.
  • IBM
  • Liberty
  • Sky UK
  • TfL
  • Warner Brothers
  • UBS



Wherever you’re taking your fourth seat, you’ll be briefed on the qualification process and decide which area of the firm you would like to qualify in to. Once your qualification position is confirmed you’ll be invited to attend the first stage of the newly qualified associate induction.


When you qualify, you can apply for 3 months unpaid leave. On your return you will attend the newly qualified associate induction.

The NQ induction will prepare you for the next step in your career and help to bridge the gap between the work of a trainee and an associate. Our partners and the wider support network of the firm will help you manage the transition from trainee to associate –preparing you for the changes in both your role and responsibilities.


As an associate, you’ll have ongoing training and development, along with opportunities for international or client secondments as your career progresses. We develop our lawyers’ skills in business development, client interviewing and client contact. Specific training is provided for each practice area, including formal and informal knowledge sharing and language training according to individual needs.

All our lawyers attend an Associate Development Centre after they have been qualified for two years. This is a two-day workshop which incorporates the management course stage one.

The programme aims to develop your skills and abilities in project management – incorporating sessions on project management methodology, managing finance, client relationship management and managing others.


As a senior associate, your ongoing training and development will continue and may include modules such as supervisor training. If your goal is to become a partner you may also attend the potential partner development centre.

The ambition of most of our trainees is to be a partner and this could happen within seven or eight years. However, we also offer ‘of counsel’ and professional support consultant roles as alternative career paths. These are suitable for senior associates or professional support lawyers who don’t necessarily want to become partners.


This development centre is aimed at those who are considered by the global practice leaders to have the potential in due course to be partners. Candidates attend the development centre approximately two years ahead of the potential promotion and complete a series of activities typical of those undertaken by partners. The intention is to help candidates identify their strengths and development areas and produce a bespoke development plan to work on as they progress in the promotions process.


All new partners attend a tailored induction to support them in their transition to partnership. The induction provides clarity for the new partners – helping them to map out their role and future milestones for success. The programme enables the partners to share what is different about being a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills and to take ownership for building the future of the firm. What’s more, we continue to develop your people, business and practice management skills as well as your leadership and business development skills on an ongoing basis.

Your development

Becoming a brilliant lawyer takes a lot of work. And while you’re focusing on your GDL and your LPC, we’ll focus on making sure you’ve got all the support you need to succeed. We’ll pay your course fees plus give you a maintenance grant and be on hand to offer any help and advice you need. We’ll ensure you get excellent practical training during your LPC and we’ll be there if you need advice about moving to London.

You will be assigned a trainee mentor before you officially join. Once you start, as well as continued support from our dedicated HR team, a partner mentor will advise you throughout your training contract. 

We know that understanding how you're doing is key to your development. That's why we make sure you get regular feedback from the people you work with as you progress through your seats. In addition you'll have formal mid and end-of-seat performance reviews.

Make a difference

Some of our most rewarding work comes from the individuals, NGOs and developing country governments who make up our pro bono clients.

Working with these diverse groups offers you the chance to develop your professional knowledge and make a positive impact on issues close to your heart and ours.

All of our trainees are automatically enrolled to help at our Whitechapel Legal Advice Clinic. Find out more about that and some of our other pro bono and citizenship opportunities here.

Find out more

Your Application

Get an understanding of what it takes to make a great first impression and take the first step to a rewarding career with us.