updated on 28 September 2023
Most trainee-hiring law firms run work experience schemes and events specifically for first-year students. So, if you’re seriously considering becoming a solicitor, you’ll be doing yourself a big favour by making sure you attend one or two during your first year at university. Use this list of firms offering opportunities to first-year students to get you started!
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Gaining first-hand experience in a law firm used to be limited to vacation schemes and university law fairs, but things have changed. While two-week vacation schemes remain the best route to a training contract – with the majority of such placements still focusing on second and final-year students – an increasing number of firms also run shorter schemes, insight events and open days for first years.
Some of these opportunities are easier to find online than others, so below we’ve set out what some of the country’s top law firms are offering to help you kickstart your own research. Start by investigating the firm’s profile on LCN to introduce yourself to its business, work areas, offices and so on, then if you feel the firm could be right for you, head to its recruitment site to find out more and apply. While securing legal experience during your first year isn’t compulsory, it can help to give you an edge by boosting your CV and networking, and may also help you to fast track your way onto a vacation scheme later on. You’d be wise to make the most of the opportunities available.
The firm’s first-year programme ‘A&O First’ is open to students in the first year of a three-year course or the second year of a four-year course (undergraduate).
Applications for this programme open on 8 January 2024 and close on 9 February 2024.
Find out more about this scheme via our more general Feature on upcoming open days and insight schemes.
Ashurst hosts first-year insight days (virtual and in person) to give candidates a chance to understand what it’s like to work at the firm. First-year law and non-law students are eligible to apply, as well as second-year students who are on a four-year degree.
Applications for the in-person insight day open on 8 January 2024 and close at midday on 23 February 2024, and applications for the virtual insight day open on 26 February 2024 and close at midday on 26 April 2024.
Baker McKenzie’s First Year Insight Scheme is a two-day placement for first-year law and non-law students, which will run from 22 to 23 April 2024 at the firm’s London office. The scheme provides insights into life at a global law firm with attendees getting involved in structured sessions that’ll introduce the firm’s various departments and the work it undertakes.
The firm will cover the costs of travel and accommodation for the duration of the scheme.
Applications open on 1 November 2023 and close on 1 February 2024.
Bristows hosts several IP-focused workshops to offer interested candidates an insight into life as an IP lawyer. The firm’s IP Workshops for First Undergraduates will be held virtually on 13 June 2024 and is open to both first-year law and non-law students.
Applications are open now and close on 31 May 2024.
The firm’s open days are open to first-year university students and beyond, and will take place on:
Applications are open and will close on 15 November 2023.
Find out more about this scheme via our more general Feature on upcoming open days and insight schemes.
The magic circle firm hosts a series of events throughout the year, including a skills session series, a flagship event series, and a conference series.
The firm also has a programme called SPARK which has been designed for ‘exceptional’ first-year law students, second-year students of a four-year law degree or penultimate-year non-law students. Initially launched as a five-day scheme, SPARK is now a two-year programme that offers applicants an insight into the firm’s work and the opportunity to develop key skills.
Applications will close at 11:59pm on 8 February 2024.
The firm’s First Steps scheme is open to first-year law students and those in the second year of a four-year law or non-law degree. The programme involves practical experience skills sessions and networking. Plus, successful completion of the scheme could see candidates fast tracked to an assessment day for a training contract.
Applications for the 2024 scheme will open on 4 December 2023.
The two-day CovInsights programme is aimed at first-year law students and second-year non-law students who are researching their legal careers. The programme will provide insights into the firm, its practice areas and the skills necessary to be a successful lawyer.
Applications are open and will close on 9 February 2024, with the scheme taking place between 3 and 4 April 2024.
The firm also runs a series of virtual insight sessions that are open to students in any year of their degree (law or non-law), including graduates.
The firm’s insight programme is open to first-year law students, second-year law students on a four-year course, second-year non-law students and third-year non-law students on a four-year course.
It’ll take place at the firm’s London office in spring 2024. The application window is now open with the firm offering places on a rolling basis.
International firm Freshfields has a spring scheme workshop that’s open to first-year law and non-law students, and second-year students on a four-year course. It’s a two-day programme designed to develop students’ understanding of the firm’s selection process and the skills required to secure a place on its vacation scheme. Check the Freshfields website for updated information on when the workshop will take place.
There’s also a one-day non-law workshop which includes insight from lawyers who came to the firm from a non-law background. It’s open to all non-law students. Applications will close on 16 November 2023 for this one.
US-headquartered Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s First Year Insight Day will take place on 25 April 2023 – applications are open and will close on 20 March 2024.
The firm offers first-year workshops at its London office, which include interactive sessions, a careers fair, an afternoon shadowing a trainee and an evening social. The workshops will run between 2 and 3 April, and 15 and 16 April 2024. Applications for the workshop will open on 1 January 2024 and close on 31 January 2024.
There are also several open days available to first-year students including the firm’s IP, cyber and tech open day, Black talent open day and LGBT+ open day.
Find out more about these open days via our more general Feature on upcoming open days and insight schemes.
Hogan Lovells runs two insight schemes for first-year students of all degree disciplines, which include interactive workshops, presentations and networking opportunities. Applications will open on 2 January 2024 and close on 29 February 2024. The first scheme will take place between 10 and 11 April 2024 and the second between 12 and 13 June 2024.
The firm hosts four open day events, with one dedicated First-Year Spring Scheme open to all first-year students and designed to offer a real picture of “roles, responsibilities, and experiences of Latham trainees”.
The first-year scheme will take place in April 2024, with applications closing on 28 January 2024.
The Pathfinder programme is a hybrid insight and developmental programme that includes workshops and shadowing over the course of six months. The scheme is open to first-year students of all degree disciplines.
The firm’s first-year insight scheme is a week-long experience for candidates in their first year of a three-year course or second year of a four-year course.
Macfarlanes also runs a week-long first-year skills development initiative, which includes work experience and mentoring for law undergraduates from certain universities.
Mishcon’s next first-year open day will take place on 21 February 2024 and is a great chance to get an insight into life as a lawyer at the firm and advice on how to stand out in your applications. Applications will open on 10 January 2024.
On the first-year open day at Norton Rose Fulbright, students will get involved in interactive sessions and have the chance to network with the firm’s trainees over lunch. You’ll also receive interview and application advice!
The dates for the firm’s 2024 open days haven’t been announced at the time of writing, so please keep an eye on the website for updated information.
The firm’s insight scheme is designed for first-year law and second-year non-law students to provide a “glimpse into life at a law firm and a taste of what it’s like to work at Osborne Clarke”, plus much more. Each scheme will run over the Easter break in Bristol, Reading and London, with applications opening on 1 October 2023 and closing at 11:59pm on 28 February 2024.
The firm recently launched a scheme that’s open to first-year law students, second-year non-law students and those in the second year of a four-year course. It’s a three-day programme comprised of workshops, shadowing and networking in the firm’s London office. Once the scheme has finished, applicants will be allocated a mentor from the firm who’ll be on hand to answer questions you have about working at Reed Smith.
Applications will open on 2 October 2023 and close on 12 February 2024 at 5:00pm.
RPC’s First-Year Workshop is open to first-year law and second-year non-law students and will take place virtually. The workshop includes presentations, skills sessions and networking opportunities and will take place on 27 March 2024. Applications close on 18 March 2024.
Several insight evenings will be taking place across Shoosmiths’ various offices. The insight evenings will be held on specific dates for candidates applying to the firm’s Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Thames Valley and Solent offices.
Find out more about these insight evenings via our more general Feature on upcoming open days and insight schemes.
The firm’s spring insight scheme is open to first-year law and non-law students (as well as second-year non-law). The next scheme will take place from 3 to 4 April 2024 in the London office and attendees will receive £150 for the two days. Applications for the scheme open on 1 December 2023 and will close on 31 January 2024. The open days are also a great place to meet the firm and gain insights into its culture and the opportunities available.
The magic circle firm’s first-year open days are open first-year students and second-year students on a four-year degree.
These will take place on:
Applications will open on 2 October 2023 and close on 5 January 2024.
There’s also a week-long spring work experience scheme that’s open to first-year law students and second-year law students on a four-year degree who are from lower socioeconomic and/or ethnic minority backgrounds. It’ll take place from 8 to 12 April 2024. Applications will open from 2 October 2023 and close on 5 January 2024.
The firm will be hosting virtual insight days in November and December, and open days in January and March for you to meet partners, associate, trainees and the graduate recruitment team, and to gain valuable insights into life at the firm.
You can also visit the firm for its disability open day that’s aimed at students in their first year of university and beyond with a disability, neurodiversity, or long-term health condition. This open day will take place on 7 February 2024.
You can hear from senior lawyers and trainees at Taylor Wessing’s open days taking place in October and November. Candidates can choose from a few dates (listed below) and formats. These will take place on:
Applications for the firm’s upcoming open days will close on 1 October 2023.
First-year students can also attend the firm’s two-day first-year scheme on 8 and 9 April 2024. This scheme will enable you to get know the firm more, network and encourage you to think commercially. Applications open on 1 December 2023 and close on 1 February 2024.
TLT hosts an insight scheme for first and second-year students and open days that take place across the firm’s different offices, with first-year students eligible to attend.
The firm’s open day, discoVEr V&E, is dedicated to first-year students and offers insights into the firm, life as a trainee, the opportunity to network and lots more. It’ll take place on 23 April 2024. Applications for the 2024 open day will open on 1 November 2023 and close on 2 February 2024
Open days are open to all undergraduate students from first years onwards.
Weil’s self-paced, virtual experience programme is open to all and is designed to show attendees the sort of work they’d experience as a trainee at the firm, help them develop their commercial awareness and more.
You can attend one of two of White & Case’s first-year insight schemes to learn more about the firm, shadow a trainee, meet associates and partners, and more. Applications for both schemes close on 31 March 2024. The first scheme takes place on 8 and 9 May 2024, and the second scheme takes place on 15 and 16 May 2024.
Aspiring lawyers can attend the firm’s open day on 14 November 2023 to hear from partners, associates and trainees. Places for the open are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and will close when the open day is full.
Insight schemes and open evenings aren’t the only opportunities that you should pursue in your first year at university. Other things you can do to improve your CV and access opportunities include getting involved in your student law society and volunteering.