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The Oracle

Are law firms still recruiting trainees despite coronavirus?

updated on 05 May 2020

Dear Oracle

Are law firm still recruiting this year given the coronavirus pandemic? Can I still apply for a training contract this summer?

The Oracle replies

This question is a cause of understandable anxiety for aspiring lawyers. The short answer is yes, it will be possible to apply for a training contract this year (usually to start in two years’ time), but there will be fewer TCs advertised this summer compared to 2019, because some firms have paused recruitment.

The good news is that the number of firms continuing recruitment as normal is growing. Some large City and regional firms with healthy profit margins have not felt forced to make drastic changes to salaries or staffing levels, and several are going ahead with application processes and vacation schemes, and plan to make training contract offers later this year.

Burges Salmon, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Pinsent Masons, Skadden, Taylor Wessing and Vinson & Elkins have all moved vacation schemes online and are continuing trainee recruitment while still observing social distancing rules. More firms may follow with their own announcements in the next couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, other firms have had to suspend recruitment due to the pandemic. Many firms of varying sizes understandably cancelled their spring vacation schemes as they were given little time to react. Now some of these have also moved to suspend all recruitment for a period.

At least four mid-tier firms have said they are pausing their 2020 recruitment processes until 2021 and it seems likely that this number will also increase over the next few weeks. 

How many fewer training contract vacancies will be there be to apply for this year compared to 2019? The truth is that no one knows the exact number yet and many firms are still considering their options. We expect news to come in thick and fast this month, particularly once the government provides more information on what social distancing measures will be needed and which restrictions can be eased over the rest of 2020 and beyond.

Find information and regular updates on LawCareers.Net’s coronavirus information hub.