updated on 29 May 2020
This is a hub for all the information you need about changes to legal recruitment and education in response to coronavirus. Check this page regularly for updates on work placement schemes, exam timings, course start dates and more.
Keep up with the ongoing impact of coronavirus on all areas of commercial law with Lexology.
Training contracts and vacation schemes
Trainee recruitment is still continuing as normal at some firms, many of which are moving their vacation schemes online, with the vacation scheme becoming the only application route to a training contract and the firm no longer accepting direct applications. See this section as well as 'Vacation schemes' below for more information.
Firms recruiting in Summer 2020
These firms are continuing to recruit trainees through online vacation schemes:
Changes to vacation schemes
The following firms have cancelled their summer vacation schemes:
Check back for potential further announcements over the next couple of weeks.
Firms postponing recruitment
Cripps Pemberton Greenish has taken the decision to defer the application process for its 2022 training contracts, originally due to take place this summer.
Devonshires has cancelled trainee recruitment for 2021.
Glovers has placed its trainee recruitment programme on hold. The firm said: "We are likely to review our trainee recruitment strategy in April 2021 and would suggest that you check our website again after this date."
Mundays has paused trainee recruitment for 2020. Recruitment for 2022 and 2023-start training contracts is planned to commence in 2021.
Russell-Cooke Solicitors has decided to pause its graduate recruitment process and cannot take any applications forward at this time.
VWV has paused recruitment. The firm tweeted: "We remain positive that our recruitment and growth plans will be back on the agenda before long."
Freeths have temporarily closed their roles but are reviewing the situation.
Training contract start dates
Irwin Mitchell has delayed the start date of trainees due to commence this year to February 2021. The firm said future recruitment plans are not affected.
Check back here for further updates.
With the possibility that government advice on social distancing measures will remain in place for some months, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has said that it is “clearly not possible to give any definite assurances about when it will be possible for potential pupils to fulfil all the requirements that they must do before commencing pupillage. These include provider-set exams, such as advocacy, as well as [Inns of Court] qualifying sessions and the BSB-set centralised exams. The impact on chambers is also as yet not quantifiable. We…will continue to talk to course providers and to the Inns and to work together to provide opportunities for requirements to be fulfilled at the earliest opportunity.”
Look out for information coming from law schools, the Inns of Court and individual barristers’ chambers about pupillage plans in the weeks and months ahead.
The Young Barristers Committee has published this information about how it is working to support young and pupil barristers.
For now, most pupillage applicants face an anxious wait to hear back from their chambers. Meanwhile, up to 30% of pupillages could be deferred or cancelled, according to a survey of barristers' chambers by the Bar Council.
Henderson Chambers has announced that pupillage recruitment has been moved to the summer, after previously saying it would have to cancel all pupillage recruitment this year.
Several barristers’ chambers have postponed their mini-pupillage schemes, The Lawyer reports. The following chambers have announced mini-pupillage cancellations:
Meanwhile, Blackstone Chambers is enabling students to undertake mini-pupillages through remote working.
Legal Practice Course (LPC)
LPC exams will be sat remotely after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) responded to junior lawyers' demands not to delay. The Law Gazette reports that supervision will still be necessary for core LPC exams, so the SRA is inviting applications from organisations that can provide online or remote exam supervision services. The regulator added that law schools "must apply to us for approval before making any changes to assessments".
Future LPC students will likely be able to start their courses on time through online learning.
Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC)
The BSB has cancelled BPTC exams that were due to take place in April.
The next opportunity to take the centralised civil litigation, criminal litigation and professional ethics exams is in August 2020, but this date will remain under review as the coronavirus situation develops.
Students hoping to commence a Bar course in September 2020 currently face an uncertain situation. Some providers may press ahead with courses, many of which already include a large online learning component. However, course start dates – and indeed the start date of the whole 2020-21 academic year – remain under review. Check LawCareers.Net and individual law schools’ websites for news in the weeks ahead.
Students must pass the BCAT to be able to progress onto a Bar course, but work still needs to be done to ensure that students can take the exam while adhering to social distancing measures. The BSB said: “We will endeavour to find a solution that will not prevent students from commencing their Bar training this year as planned.”
Law conversion and undergraduate degree
Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) exams at many universities are set to go ahead online. Law conversion courses are managed by individual universities, not the SRA.
Exams for many undergraduate degrees (law and non-law) will take place online without the need for delays. Check with your university or law school for details about how exams will go ahead.
A level, GCSE and UCAS
All GCSE and A-level exams have been cancelled. Students will be awarded grades based on their coursework, mock exam results and other evidence. For details of exams in all four home nations, see this UCAS guidance.
In a statement to students UCAS said: “Following the recent government announcements of the closure of schools and the cancellation of examinations and assessments in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, we want to reassure you that all organisations involved in the higher education admissions process are working flat out to find a solution that’s efficient, fair, and in your best interests.
“We appreciate this is a difficult and uncertain situation for applicants planning to start university in the autumn, and we are committed to work together to ensure that your hard work to date will not go to waste, and that no-one is unfairly impacted in this process by the COVID-19 virus.”
The government’s universities minister, Michelle Donelan said: “There is no reason for the usual admissions cycle to be disrupted.”