Training contract

One of the best things about Penningtons Manches Cooper is its mix of corporate/commercial and people-based work.

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The programme

Our training contracts are designed to offer trainees a breadth of experience and consist of four seats that are rotated every six months, with the aim of providing trainees with as much exposure as possible to our business and clients. During your training contract, we will work with you to ensure that your career aspirations and interests are met, all while learning from recognised experts, taking on real responsibility and interacting with great colleagues.

We offer training contracts in London, Basingstoke/Reading, Birmingham, Cambridge, Guildford and Oxford. You can find out more about the seats available in each location here. Please note that available seats will vary each rotation. Hear from some of our current trainees about their experiences of working at Penningtons Manches Cooper here.

Our training programme is widely respected in the legal sector and we have been recognised in independent surveys as providing excellence in training, high quality work and levels of responsibility as well as an inclusive culture and work-life balance. Here is what you can expect when undertaking a training contract at Penningtons Manches Cooper:

Responsibility and client contact

  • The size of our trainee intake means you are given real responsibility, often working on cases from start to finish as opposed to just one part of the issue. Trainees regularly interact with clients directly, allowing them to develop their client care skills whilst being supported by senior supervisors.


  • You will receive a thorough grounding in the law, spending time in the various practice groups within the firm's main business divisions: dispute resolution, business services, private individuals and real estate.
  • Within your seats, you could experience work from multi-national corporations, public companies, professional partnerships, banks and financial institutions as well as private individuals. Irrespective of the type of client, international cases with cross jurisdictional and multidisciplinary facets are commonplace.


  • Along with a designated supervisor and team buddy in each seat, you will be allocated a trainee buddy and mentor.
  • Your mentor will be a partner or senior associate who will be someone you can go to for impartial advice and help during your training contract.
  • Your buddy will be a trainee who is a year ahead of you and will be able to answer those day-to-day questions that you may not want to ask someone more senior.
  • The trainee appraisal process, which involves a mid-seat and end-of-seat review, will also ensure that you are given regular formal feedback and support with your development.

Training and career development

  • As a new starter, you will complete an initial week-long induction. Quarterly training sessions tailored for trainees focus on skills such as drafting, legal negotiation, developing your personal brand and building relationships professionally. Team know-how and training sessions are also run throughout the year.
  • You will get the opportunity to take part in legal technology training, which is an interactive programme, focused on the use of technology and how it can be used to drive efficiency within practice at the firm.
  • Trainees are greatly valued at Penningtons Manches Cooper and many have gone on to reach partner level over the years. Our retention rate continues to reflect that with 77% of trainees offered NQ positions in 2023. 

Life at the firm

  • We recruit between 12 and 15 trainees annually and value each and every one of them as individuals. You will get to know all the trainees in your year and the year above, and meet up with them regularly at training sessions. We don't deny that at times you may be asked to work longer hours - nevertheless, our relaxed work-life culture enables trainees to continue with their hobbies, interests and social commitments.
  • Our wellbeing strategy, Pennwell, focuses on the wellbeing of our people. It looks at all forms of wellbeing including social, financial, mental and physical. Activities range from an array of informative webinars to walking challenges.
  • Each office has a sports and social committee made up of solicitors, trainees and support staff. The committees organise a variety of events such as theatre trips, quiz nights, tenpin bowling and evening drinks.  In addition, firmwide social events such as the summer party are arranged - giving partners and staff across the offices an opportunity to get together in an informal atmosphere. Diversity, equity and inclusion is promoted throughout everything we do at the firm, which means there is plenty to get involved in and benefit from. We aim to provide safe spaces and DEI ambassadors for people from all backgrounds and identities. Our Pennclusion committees support age, gender, race and faith, disability, neurodiversity and mental health, LGTBQIA+ and social mobility.
  • There is also a plethora of corporate social responsibility initiatives that you can get involved with at the firm including supporting our environmental agenda, fundraising for our charity partners, volunteering and pro bono. Our intention is to offer something for everyone that will enable them to give back and enrich their own lives outside their legal work.

The recruitment process

All applications for our trainee lawyer programme are received online and will be reviewed after the deadline date.

First stage
The first stage consists of a competency based telephone interview with a member of the early careers team.

Second stage
You will be required to complete a written assessment which incorporates typical tasks a trainee may be asked to complete. No prior legal knowledge is required for this.

Third stage
The final stage consists of an interview with a partner and member of the early careers team, which will also incorporate a presentation based on a legal case study.

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

For the best start to your career, we recommend applying for one of our vacation schemes, as they offer real insight into what it is like to work at Penningtons Manches Cooper. A large proportion of our training contract positions are recruited through this route - you can find out more about our vacation scheme placements here.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for dedicated, diverse candidates with a strong academic record and commercial awareness. 

Eligibility criteria:

  • penultimate year or final year law undergraduates, final year non-law undergraduates or post-graduates and career changers
  • no minimum A-level grade requirements  
  • having, or being on track for a 2:1 degree in any discipline
  • a commitment to a career in law
  • being a great team player
  • exceptional communication skills
  • an entrepreneurial mindset that will help drive our vision for the future

We understand that extenuating circumstances can occur during studies and therefore if you do not meet these criteria and feel that your grades are not a true indicator of your abilities, please include some context within your application and this will be considered.  

How to apply

The recruitment timetable for our 2026 trainee solicitor programme is as follows:

  • Applications open: apply here
  • Applications close: Friday 12 April 2024

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