Trainee lawyer FAQs

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Trainee lawyer FAQs
  • My academic qualifications do not meet your minimum requirements for applications; should I still apply?

    Yes, there are a number of facets that make up an application, so even if you fall down in one area, you may be able to balance this with strong work experience or a very targeted covering letter. If there are mitigating circumstances for academic results, please include the context within your application and this will be considered. We are proud to be using Rare Recruitment's Contextual Recruitment System (CRS), which allows us to consider your achievements in the context in which they were gained. We understand that not every candidate’s achievements look the same on paper and we want to recruit the best people, from every background.

  • Can I apply for both a training contract and a vacation scheme?

    Yes, you can. If you apply for our vacation scheme programme in 2024 you will automatically apply to our trainee solicitor programme in 2026 and do not need to make a separate application. We also accept direct applications for our trainee solicitor programme in 2026. 

  • I already have plenty of legal work experience. Should I apply for a vacation scheme or directly for a training contract?

    Our vacation scheme is designed to give you a realistic impression of life as a trainee at Penningtons Manches Cooper. Working alongside a trainee, you will be given as much hands-on experience as possible, allowing you to gain a real insight into the work that we do and our culture. However, if you feel that you already know that we are the right firm for you, and have enough legal work experience or are unable to attend our vacation scheme dates, you can apply directly for a training contract.

  • What should I include in the covering letter?

    Your covering letter is your opportunity to tell us about yourself in more detail: why you are interested in a career in law, the office location you are applying for and why, and (most importantly) your reasons for applying to Penningtons Manches Cooper and why they resonate with you personally. It is imperative that you can demonstrate that you have done your research and understand the offering that we have.

  • Do you review the applications as and when they are submitted, or after the deadline?

    We will consider applications for all our programmes after the application deadlines have passed.

    2024 vacation scheme deadline: 3 January 2024

    2026 trainee solicitor programme deadline (direct only): 12 April 2024

    2024 EMpower programme: 3 January 2024

    2024 A-level work experience programme: 19 April 2024 

  • Can I get feedback on my application?

    Due to the large number of applications we receive, we are unable to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications. We do, however, provide feedback to all of those who have attended one of our assessment centres upon request.

  • I require adjustments during the interview process. Who should I contact?

    If you require individual arrangements or adjustments at any stage of the recruitment process, please contact the early careers team at   

  • What is the firm’s approach to SQE?

    In April 2017, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) agreed to introduce the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) as a new approach to qualification. 

    We have been working with BPP on a bespoke course and all our future trainees will complete LLM SQE 1 and 2 where they have not already completed the LPC/SQE. This bespoke course will allow our future trainees the opportunity to study electives (not part of SQE 1 or 2) and understand more commercially about law firms as businesses and the impact of emerging technologies. 

    If you have not completed a law degree or SQE 1 at the point of receiving a place on our trainee solicitor programme, you will be required to complete the PGDL. 

    For the SQE and PGDL courses there is flexibility in how and where our future trainees can learn – this can be at one of BPP’s various campuses across the UK, or fully online, and can be studied part-time or full-time. Networking and social events will also take place during studies to ensure our future trainees start building their knowledge and networks at the firm, as well as across their cohort, before commencing on their training programme. 

  • Does the firm sponsor SQE/PGDL studies?

    Upon securing a place on our trainee solicitor programme, we will pay the full fees of any further study that hasn’t yet been completed ie PGDL and LLM SQE 1 and 2. We provide a maintenance grant to help support our future trainees through their studies - £8,000 for those studying LLM SQE 1 and 2 or £12,000 for those undertaking the PGDL and LLM SQE 1 and 2. We do not offer retrospective funding for law school fees or maintenance grants.

  • How is the seating plan organised throughout the training contract?

    Our trainees rotate on a six-monthly basis, spending time in the various areas of the firm's main divisions: business services, private individuals, dispute resolution and real estate. 

    Our early careers team meet with our trainees throughout their training contracts, and will ask them for their preferences a few months in advance of the next seat rotation. This will be mapped out against the demands of the business. Priority is given to second year trainees (as they are closer to qualifying). Availability of seats can change throughout the year so we are never able to guarantee that you can do a specific seat. However, as we are a full service law firm, there are many different seats on offer so we do ask for an open mind. 

  • What other things can I get involved with outside my training contract at Penningtons Manches Cooper?

    There are a vast number of CSR, diversity, wellbeing and social initiatives that all staff can get involved in.

    These include:

    • diversity committees;
    • environmental champions;
    • mental health champions;
    • sports and social committee;
    • the Penningtons Manches Cooper Charitable Foundation;
    • the wellbeing programme; and
    • mentoring programmes.
  • Do you offer an Easter vacation scheme programme?

    Yes, the dates of our 2024 vacation scheme programmes are as follows:

    Spring scheme: 8 – 12 April 2024

    Summer scheme one: 10 – 14 June 2024

    Summer scheme two: 24 – 28 June 2024

  • I am neurodiverse. What support does the firm have in place for neurodiverse applicants?

    We welcome applications from candidates from all backgrounds including those who are neurodiverse. We are happy to make individual adjustments to ensure you are able to demonstrate your suitability for the position. Please contact the early careers recruitment team at so that we can discuss your requirements with you.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP