Finding a contract can be a difficult and daunting experience: competition for training places is fierce - so where do you start?

Solicitors’ firms, local and central government, magistrates’ courts and in-house legal departments such as those of banks and corporations all offer training contracts. Think carefully about the type of work you wish to pursue so that you can focus your efforts and plan accordingly. Firms often recruit trainees two years in advance of the start of the training contract, and we recommend that you begin applying for training posts in the second year of your undergraduate studies.

The JLD has produced a free online seminar (webinar) that gives top tips for current and future LPC students, and post LPC students who have yet to secure a training contract, and was presented live on 8 July 2010. View the webinar

Law fairs

Employers from law firms and other organisations and institutions offering training contracts attend law fairs at most of the major universities across the country every year between October and February. At law fairs you can collect application forms and organisation brochures and leaflets, and talk to representatives from each organisation to get a picture of what it is like to work there.For a schedule of law fairs, see The Training Contract & Pupillage Handbook , which is published every year in October or November.

Choosing a training establishment

Only authorised training establishments can enter into training contracts, and it is essential that you check before entering into a contract that your firm is authorised. For a list of law firms which offer training contracts visit . You can also get details of authorised training establishments from the SRA.

Contact the SRA

Authorisation is normally for a period of three years, at the end of which the firm must apply for re-authorisation if they wish to continue to take on trainees.

What if I don’t find a training contract?

If you have graduated and completed the Legal Practice Course but haven’t been offered a training contract, you could choose to work in a legal office while continuing your search. If at this stage you gain ‘significant legal experience’ you may at the discretion of your training establishment be able to reduce the term of your training contract by up to six months. The Solicitors Regulation Authority provides guidance on recognising previous experience (PDF 48kb) .

Further resources

Organisations which may be able to help you in your search include the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) and the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

Keep an eye on the national press (legal appointments are published in The Times on Tuesdays and The Independent on Wednesdays and Fridays), and consult the following publications:

  • Training Contract and Pupillage Handbook, Globe Business Publishing
  • Law Gazette
  • The Chambers Student Guide, Chambers & Partners
  • The Legal 500, Legalease
  • Prospects Law, Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services
  • Legal Action, Legal Action Group magazine