Trainee lawyer FAQs

If you are searching for great opportunities to work on interesting matters, then keep Penningtons Manches Cooper in mind.

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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 these. From 2020 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. However, if you would like to apply for both a vacation scheme and a training contract, we ask that you apply for the vacation scheme first and wait to hear the result of your application, before completing an application form for our training contract.

  • 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, why you are pursuing the role you are applying for, and (most importantly) why specifically you want to work at Penningtons Manches Cooper. 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?

    For both vacation schemes and training contracts we review applications on a rolling basis. Vacation scheme applications are reviewed from October, but we usually do the first sift of training contract applications around Easter to coincide with any final round interviews we do following our Easter vacation scheme. Early application is therefore strongly advised. If you wait until closer to the deadline, our roles may already have been offered and your application may not be reviewed.

  • 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.

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

    If you require any special assistance or adjustments during the recruitment process, please contact the early careers recruitment team at when you are invited to interview and we will be happy to discuss your requirements with you.

  • Does the firm sponsor the LPC and does it dictate the modules I should choose?

    We sponsor candidates through the LPC if they have secured a training contract with us ahead of starting the LPC. Our preferred supplier is BPP. We do not dictate the modules that you should take, but suggest aligning them with our practice areas, which are hopefully similar to your areas of interest anyway. A maintenance grant of £6,000 is available for those sponsored by us who are studying the LPC full time. We do not offer retrospective funding for law school fees or maintenance grants.

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

    Our early careers recruitment manager meets 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. Generally if there is a specific seat that you want to do, you will be able to do it at some point during your training contract - just maybe not in the seat order you wanted.

  • 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
    - Penningtons Manches Cooper Charitable Foundation
    - the wellbeing programme
    - mentoring programmes

  • What has been the impact of Covid-19 on vacation scheme and trainee recruitment at the firm?

    Owing to the impact of Covid-19, we took the decision to cancel our face-to-face Easter and summer vacation scheme programmes in 2020 and replace them with an online virtual workshop. This enabled those on the vacation scheme to meet with various trainees across the different practice areas, relevant to the office they had applied to. They went through case studies, learnt more about the clients we work with and how trainees are pivotal in that work. They were also able to ask trainees about life at the firm and participated in a partner Q&A session to get a better understanding of the firm’s strategy and pose any higher level questions.

    Recruitment for training contracts in 2022 went ahead, but was all conducted virtually in order to safeguard the candidates involved as well as our own people.

    For our next round of recruitment, assessment days for vacation schemes will take place virtually from December 2020 to March 2021. We continue to follow the Government guidance and may need to run our training contract interviews virtually again next year but will keep our website updated with details on this.

  • Do you offer an Easter vacation scheme programme?

    This year, in light of the current restrictions and the majority of our workforce working from home, we have decided not to run a programme at Easter but will offer an extra week over the summer. We pride ourselves on our vacation scheme experience and the live work that our vacation scheme students are involved with. By postponing our Easter programme to the summer, we hope that more people will have been able to return to the office and therefore that we can offer a face-to-face experience to our vacation scheme students as opposed to a virtual one. (Our summer schemes are still subject to change and will be run in accordance with any Government guidelines at the time).

  • With SQE due to come in from the autumn of 2021, how will this change trainee recruitment for 2023 and beyond?

    In April 2017, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) agreed to introduce the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) as a new approach to qualification. You should however continue to apply for our training contract as normal. The SRA's plans for the SQE are still under review and we will not be changing our route to qualification until the process has been signed off and confirmed by the SRA (this is estimated to be in the autumn of 2020). For more information on the SQE and how this may affect you, please visit the SRA website.

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

    We welcome applications from neurodiverse people and we are happy to make reasonable adjustments to ensure you are able to demonstrate your suitability for the position. Please contact the early careers recruitment team at who are happy to 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