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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Frequently Asked Questions

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We hope that most of your questions have been answered as you have read through our website. Here are a few of the queries that we receive most regularly. 

  • Applications

    How many applications do you receive each year?

    We usually receive about 700 applications for both vacation scheme placements and training contracts. We offer about 40 vacation scheme placements, 40 information day places and 12-14 training contracts each year.

    How many candidates do you interview each year?

    For our summer vacation scheme, we offer assessments to approximately 90 candidates. For training contracts, we will interview about 50 people.

    Do I have to apply for a particular location/office?

    We would like you to apply to your preferred location as it is an important personal decision for you. However, if you would be genuinely willing to work in more than one of our offices, please state your preferences in your covering letter.

    Please can you give me some top tips for applications?

    Research us, spend time on layout (no bullet points please), show us your personality, ensure there are not typos – especially if you copy and paste from other firms’ applications!

    I have a 2:2 – can I still apply?

    We look at the whole academic picture, so if you have one result that you are worried about, it can be remedied by strong academics elsewhere. Likewise, it can help if you make sure all other aspects of your application are as strong as possible. Please also include mitigating circumstances in your form.

    I have been working in a different industry for a number of years. Will you consider me?

    Absolutely – please explain clearly why you have decided to change careers.

    Who should I address my covering letter to in my application form?

    Please address your letter to Helen Lewis, Trainee Recruitment Manager.

    Is it worth me reapplying if I am unsuccessful in my first year of applying?

    Yes, but it is worth spending time improving your application.

    Do you accept applications from candidates who need a work permit?

    We do not currently have a sponsorship licence, so whilst you are welcome to apply, we would not be able to sponsor you through a training contract.

    Can I apply for the training contract and vacation scheme at the same time?

    Unfortunately you can’t as we recruit separately for each.

    What proportion of your trainees do/did a non-law degree?

    We have no set ratio – usually it is around 50%.

    Does it matter where I study / studied my undergraduate degree?

    We believe in the benefits of having a diverse workforce and do not have any preferences in terms of which university you attend / have attended - that is a decision for you.

  • Vacancies

    Do you ever recruit earlier than two years ahead?

    We rarely have additional earlier vacancies. If we do, we would advertise these on our website and other graduate recruitment websites as well as with law schools etc.

    What proportion of your training contracts go to people who attend vacation scheme/information days?

    It varies by year, but in 2017, over 83% of our 2019 training contracts went to people who had attended our vacation scheme / information days or who currently work for us.

    Do you offer paralegal positions?

    We occasionally require paralegals. Please check our website regularly as all vacancies are advertised there. Paralegal recruitment is separate to trainee recruitment and, at the moment, becoming a paralegal is not a route to becoming a trainee.

  • Interviews

    What will happen at interview?

    Our assessment for the vacation scheme is a half day assessment which consists of a variety of individual and group exercises.

    First interviews for training contracts are with one or two members of the graduate recruitment team. Second interviews involve an online critical thinking test, a written test, presentation and interview with a partner and a member of HR.

    Do you provide feedback on applications and interviews?

    Due to the numbers of applications involved, we are only able to offer feedback after assessment days and interviews and not on application forms.

  • Vacation scheme

    Can I choose which team I work in during a vacation scheme placement?

    If you are successful, we will ask for your preferences and will try to seat you in one of your preferred teams if at all possible.

    If I am successful for the vacation scheme, will I automatically be considered for a training contract?

    You will still need to apply for a training contract before we can invite you for interview. However, successful vacation schemers will not need to attend a first interview.

    Do you offer work experience outside the vacation scheme.

    Unfortunately as we receive thousands of requests for work experience every year, we are only able to offer work experience via the vacation scheme.

  • LPC

    Do you have a preferred LPC provider?

    If you have not already completed your LPC, our preferred supplier is BPP. However, we can discuss this, if it does not suit your geographical location.

    Do you specify which electives I should study on the LPC?

    We believe that you should be able to study the areas of law that are of interest to you on the LPC. However, we do expect you to make a sensible choice and select electives that are relevant to the firm's practice areas.

    How do you keep in touch with your future trainees?

    We organise a number of events during the two years before you start, so that you have the opportunity to get together with our current trainees and meet some of your future colleagues.

    Do you fund the LPC?

    We do fund the LPC and provide a maintenance grant. We do not fund the GDL.

  • Training contract

    What choice of seats will I get?

    Please check the current list on our ‘Training Contract’ page. These vary by year. We do our best to seat people in their preferred teams, although this isn’t always possible. Second year trainees have priority with regards to seat preferences.

    I have read about your sector groups like Sports Law and Life Sciences. Will I work in these groups as a trainee?

    Our sector groups comprise individuals from across a range of practice areas, so it is possible that you will experience some of this work during a seat in, for example, the employment team. However this could not be guaranteed as it will depend on what work your team has on at the time of your seat.

    Can I spend a seat in another office?

    There is sometimes the opportunity or requirement for a trainee to move to another office for a seat. If you have a desire to experience work in another office, you will need to find a trainee to fill your space in your own office.

    What is your trainee retention rate?

    As you would expect, our retention rate varies from year to year. However, our philosophy is to recruit a smaller number of trainees with the aim of keeping as many as possible on qualification. In 2017, our retention rate was 75%.

    Do you offer secondments?

    We occasionally have clients that require a trainee to join them on secondment, but it is not a standard part of the training contract.

    How much international work will I experience?

    It depends on which team you work in, but you will usually have experience in international matters. However, we are not an international firm and do not have opportunities for secondments or seats abroad.

  • CSR and diversity

    How can I get involved in activities beyond my day job within the firm?

    There are a range of initiatives and groups set up to help make sure life at Penningtons Manches Cooper is rewarding and enjoyable for all colleagues:

    • Penningtons Manches Cooper Foundation – our main vehicle for driving positive outcomes in our communities. Each office has a CSR committee which is given funds by the foundation to support local charities.
    • Environment champions – as we accelerate our efforts to address climate change and to reduce our impact on the environment, we have launched groups of environment champions to help drive the changes we need to see in our offices.
    • Pennclusion - our diversity and inclusion programme aspires to make the firm more inclusive for our people and our clients. The work of the programme is driven by its six committees: age; disability and mental health, ably supported by our mental health champions group; gender; LGBTQ+; race and faith; and social mobility. Each of the committees is delivering a programme of activity to address the key issues that affect inclusion and equality in these focus areas.
    • External partnerships - we have partnered with a number of external organisations to support our ambitions across our diversity and CSR agenda:

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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.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP