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Government Legal Profession

60 vacancies
80 trainees
250 partners
2000 staff
Over 2,000 lawyers work in a range of government organisations, providing a range of legal services to the government of the day.

Remember to cite LawCareers.Net on your application form if you apply to Government Legal Profession .

More info

In spring 2023 we expect to be advertising around 50-60 legal trainee positions (training contracts and pupillages) on the Government Legal Profession's website.

The application process is designed to assess the key skills, behaviours and motivation required for the role. It typically involves online ability tests e.g. a situational judgement test, verbal reasoning test, critical reasoning test and a video interview.

There is also a half-day assessment centre, which is usually held during the summer. The assessment centre has previously comprised a written exercise and interview.

We are a Disability Confident employer. Reasonable adjustments are available at any stage of the recruitment process.

How to apply

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Applications to

Government Legal Recruitment Team

Method of application

Online application form

Method of assessment

  • Assessment centre
  • Panel interview
  • Psychometric testing
  • Video interview
  • Written exercise

Government lawyers provide a range of legal services to a vast number of government organisations, including central Whitehall departments.

They undertake high quality legal work and have the opportunity to move around and work in different areas of law and practice, and work within different departments, throughout their careers. For those who choose to specialise in a particular area of law or practice, there are opportunities to do so. Other benefits include a good work life balance; flexible-working opportunities; and access to high quality training and development programmes. 

Types of work

Whether the government is creating new laws, buying goods and services, investigating mergers which could restrict competition, setting the annual budget and collecting the right amount of tax, employing people, fighting organised crime or defending its decisions in court, it needs significant levels of legal advice on a whole range of complex issues. To carry out this work, the government needs its own lawyers, who understand its business, to provide legal services to a wide client base – including a range of central government departments and other government bodies.

Providing legal advice to the government is an important element of the work. Government lawyers work alongside ministers and officials as they seek to turn government objectives into policy and law and enforce regulation. Their work is determined by the business in which their departmental clients are engaged.

The legal work is interesting, intellectually challenging, varied and often unique. The opportunity to be involved in creating and implementing new legislation is simply not available elsewhere. Our litigation lawyers represent the government in the highest courts – with more cases at the Supreme Court each year than any other organisation! The outcome of cases can have wide implications for government policy and even raise questions of constitutional importance.

The legal trainee scheme

A number of government departments recruit legal trainees, each year, via the Government Legal Profession’s legal trainee scheme. Recruitment is usually two years in advance. However, a number of places are also likely to be available for those looking to start their training sooner.

The departments which typically offer legal trainee places through the LTS are the:

Government Legal Department (GLD)

Government Legal Department (GLD) – Commercial Law Group

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

National Crime Agency (NCA)

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)

Our legal teams are based around the country, with regional offices, for example, in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, and Manchester.

The majority of the trainee positions are based in London. However, GLD does additionally offer a small number of legal trainee positions in Leeds. There may also be a possibility to undertake a six-month training ‘seat’ in Manchester with HMRC.

GLD's commercial law trainee scheme offers the opportunity to complete all your training in commercial law. The opportunities are within the Government Legal Department’s Commercial Law Group and the Department for Transport (i.e. the Department for Transport Legal Advisers commercial teams). 

If you reach the final stage of the recruitment process, you will be given an opportunity to express a preference for joining one of these departments. If you are successful, your legal training will be the responsibility of that department.

Departments hope to offer those recruited as legal trainees a permanent qualified lawyer position on successful completion of the training period, although this can never be guaranteed.

Who should apply

Government departments are looking to recruit talented people from diverse backgrounds who can demonstrate excellent analytical ability, teamworking and communication skills. Since government lawyers have the opportunity to work in different areas of law and practice throughout their careers, rather than specialise in a particular area, they are also looking for people who can apply their legal skills flexibly and for evidence of innovative thinking. And because the work is often high profile and can have a significant and positive impact upon the lives of millions across the country, the lawyers they recruit will be motivated about public service.

Diversity scheme

The diversity scheme, which has been delivered online in recent years, is targetted at undergraduates/ graduates from diverse backgrounds which are currently under-represented across the legal profession.

The diversity summer scheme has previously worked in partnership with the following organisations. 

Aspiring Solicitors

Bridging the Bar

Black Lawyers Circle

Law Society Diversity Access Scheme

Social Mobility Foundation

The available places on the scheme are all allocated to the above organisations.

The diversity summer scheme is not used to assess suitability for a training contract or pupillage (the annual legal trainee scheme is an entirely separate scheme).

The training period (whether you are looking to qualify as a solicitor or barrister) will be for two years. Departments do not take into account previous training completed elsewhere.

Whilst the broad structure of the training may be similar to what you will find elsewhere, the nature of the work is likely to be very different. You will be given early responsibility and will undertake real work for real clients from an early stage.

You will experience a range of interesting and challenging legal work – and may have the opportunity to participate in the legislative process itself.

Training contract structure

The nature of your training will vary according to the department you have been recruited to.

Generally speaking, you can expect to undertake a mix of non-contentious and contentious work.

If you have a particular interest in commercial law and would like to complete your training contract and embark on a career within this area, i.e. work across the teams providing commercial legal services to a range of client departments, you may wish to consider applying for GLD's commercial law training contracts.

Pupillage structure

The structure of the training period may vary between departments (ie GLD and HMRC).

During the pupillage period (first 12 months) your time will be split between your department and a set of external barristers’ chambers.

You’ll be involved in the wide range of work in which your department and chambers are involved in. You can expect to attend client meetings, attend court with your supervisor, carry out research for other lawyers and draft opinions.

Government departments use the services of external counsel for much of their court-based advocacy work. This means that legal trainees get the opportunity to work with and learn from experienced panel counsel who are leading experts in their respective fields. Barristers working within government departments may have the opportunity to conduct cases in tribunals and courts but this cannot be guaranteed and the extent of such advocacy opportunities will vary between departments and teams. Candidates wishing to focus principally on an advocacy career should bear this in mind.

Please see GLP website for details of sponsorship.

Please be aware that salaries and terms and conditions will vary according to department and location and are subject review and change.

  • Contentious
  • Non-contentious
  • Commercial
  • In-house
  • General Commercial
  • Corporate & Commercial
  • General Practice

Practice Areas

Extra info

102 Petty France, Westminster, London, SW1H 9GL
Phone: 0845 300 0793
Email: [email protected]
Work placement: No
Minimum qualification: 2.2 degree
Start salary: Around £29,000
Training contract applications: 2,700 (2022)
Retention rate: 95% (2022)
Partner diversity:
  • 50.0% male (2022)
  • 50.0% female
Lawyer diversity:
  • 40.0% male (2022)
  • 60.0% female
  • London
  • Leeds
  • Manchester
  • Bristol
  • Aspiring Solicitors
  • Black Lawyers’ Directory
  • Diversity Access Scheme - Law Society
  • Social Mobility Foundation