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Macfarlanes LLP

33 vacancies
68 trainees
96 partners
889 staff

Macfarlanes are a distinctive London-based law firm with a unique combination of services built and shaped around the needs of their clients.

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In this masterclass,we will cover what it’s really like to work at regional, city and US firms and the benefits, what the differences are in training, and offer practical advice for those of you making applications, plus lots more!

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Remember to cite LawCareers.Net on your application form if you apply to Macfarlanes LLP.

More info

For all our programmes, please apply online. The form is designed to give you every opportunity to tell us about yourself and show your interest in Macfarlanes.

You can apply no matter what or where you have studied. You need a 2:1 degree or above, though we do take account of extenuating circumstances.

We do not recruit on a rolling basis, so you can expect to hear from us once applications have closed.

Application blind and contextual recruitment

We want to recruit the best candidates regardless of their background or where they were educated. Most of our assessment processes for both our vacation schemes and our training programmes are scored application blind. We also use a contextual recruitment tool to understand each applicant’s achievements in the context they were gained. We understand that not every candidate’s achievements look the same on paper, and we are a firm that believes in fairness and diversity.

Macfarlanes is unlike any other law firm. We hope you use the assessments as a chance to build your understanding of us and what makes us different, just as we see it as a chance to gain an understanding of you.


Applications to

Ms Catherine Morgan-Guest

Method of application

Online Application Form

Method of assessment

  • Assessment centre
  • Partner interview
  • Written exercise

We are a distinctive London-based law firm with a unique combination of services built and shaped around the needs of our clients. Our unrivalled blend of expertise, agility and culture means we have the flexibility to meet their most challenging demands and adapt to the changing world around us. While many of our practice areas can be found at other firms, the mix cannot.

As a trainee you could be working on major corporate transactions or commercial litigation, and then working for private clients on their most sensitive affairs.

We recruit people to build careers for the long term. We know each other personally which means we work together with more cohesion, and less formality. Our culture is thoughtful, challenging and supportive, and we are a place where everyone, at whatever level, can thrive. 


Who should apply

We want to recruit the best candidates regardless of their background or where they were educated. The qualities we look for in our lawyers include strong interpersonal skills, an ambitious commercial approach, drive, motivation and resilience. Above all, we value a commitment to excellence, and an intuitive understanding of people. Our clients come from a range of backgrounds and cultures and our people do too. We welcome applications from candidates with either a law or non-law background with outstanding academics, including a predicted 2:1 degree or above.

Each year we recruit 33 trainees with the aim of training them to be the future partners of the firm. 

To find out what it is like to work at Macfarlanes read the firm's Meet the Lawyer profile.

Vacation schemes

A vacation scheme at Macfarlanes is a two-week snapshot into life as a trainee. Vacation students will spend each week in a different practice area working alongside a partner, solicitor or trainee. Work can include being asked to draft a real letter – and then working through the draft with a solicitor or trainee – or carrying out some research on a live issue for a client.

In 2024 we shall be running a spring and two summer vacation schemes, for which we are looking to recruit approximately 65 vacation students. To apply for a vacation scheme you will need to be in at least the penultimate year of your degree.

Our 2024 scheme dates are:

Spring vacation scheme: Monday 8 – Friday 19 April.

Summer one vacation scheme: Monday 24 June – Friday 5 July.

Summer two vacation scheme: Monday 8 – Friday 19 July.

Applications open on 25 September 2023 and are online via our website. Applications will close on 5 January 2024. We invite up to 15% of applicants to attend one of a series of assessment days held at the firm's office to assess them for a place on one of our vacation schemes.

First-year insight scheme

Our first-year insight scheme is a week-long event designed to provide students with an insight into City law. You will have the opportunity to meet trainees, solicitors and partners within the firm.

The scheme will comprise of skills workshops, work shadowing and presentations.

To apply you will need to be in the first year (and second year on a four-year course) of your undergraduate degree. Applications open on 25 September 2023 online via our website and will close on 26 January 2024.

Our 2024 scheme dates are: Tuesday 2 – Friday 5 April.

To find out what it's like to undertake a placement at Macfarlanes read the firm's Vacation Scheme Insider report.

Woven into every aspect of life at the firm is an enduring commitment to the development of trainees.

As a trainee, you will complete four six-month seats in different practice areas. In each seat, you will share a room with a partner or solicitor who supervises and supports you. You will also be assigned a partner who will act as your mentor throughout the training programme.

During each seat, you will receive a schedule of seminars to develop your knowledge and skills at an early stage in each seat. Each of your seats will feature a mid-seat and end-of-seat review during which you can discuss your progress and which areas need focus.

The firm has partnered with BPP to design a bespoke programme that goes beyond helping you pass SQE assessments.

This year-long course includes everything you need to ensure you are fully prepared to work in commercial practice. You complete modules that are bespoke to Macfarlanes. The programme combines classroom and digital learning to embed knowledge and uses business simulation exercises to help you apply your knowledge in realistic practice scenarios. Macfarlanes future trainees are required to pass all SQE exams (including the Macfarlanes essential for practice modules) on the first sitting.

All elements, including the bespoke Macfarlanes modules, are paid for by the firm. We also continue to provide additional financial assistance in the form of a £17,000 grant during this time.

During your SQE preparation course, you also attend regular seminars from the firm, where you hear from associates in our practice areas. These sessions help build your legal knowledge and inform your seat choices. You are also invited to social events at the firm so you can start building your network before you join us.

SQE timeline (for training programmes due to start in 2025):

Spring/Summer 2024 – receive your training programme offer from Macfarlanes.

Summer/Autumn 2025 – begin studying for the SQE with BPP.

Autumn 2025 – sit the SQE1 examination.

Spring 2026 – sit the SQE2 examination.

Spring/summer 2026 – study Macfarlanes essential for practice modules.

Summer 2026 – sit the Macfarlanes essential for practice examinations. 

You start your two-year qualifying work experience in September 2026 after you've sat SQE2.

If you studied a non-law subject at undergraduate level, you have to complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) at BPP. This will be in the year between receiving your training programme offer and starting your studies for the SQE. For those candidates completing the PGDL, you need to achieve a commendation or above on the first sitting. As with the SQE preparation course, the firm covers your fees, and you receive a £13,000 grant.

For more information about our training programme or the financial assistance available, please contact our early legal careers team. 

We are committed to fostering an inclusive culture throughout the firm, from entry level to partnership.

It is about recruiting, retaining and promoting all groups in the firm fairly, and we have invested in our processes to ensure everyone has the same chance to develop and advance. As a firm, we also have a collective responsibility to the wider community and the environment around us. The firm’s CSR programme uses the skills and time of our people – associates and business services – to support disadvantaged communities, through providing practical help and financial support.

We partner with a number of organisations to attract and develop trainees from a wide variety of backgrounds.

PGDL and SQE course fees.

Maintenance allowance for PGDL students, £13,000.

Maintenance allowance for SQE students: £17,000.

  • Banking & finance
  • Commercial
  • Brands
  • IP & IT
  • Competition/antitrust
  • Construction & engineering
  • Corporate & M&A
  • Derivatives & trading
  • Employment
  • Financial services & products
  • Litigation & dispute resolution
  • Pensions & insurance
  • Private client
  • Private client property group
  • Private funds
  • Real estate
  • Reward
  • Tax
  • Corporate & Commercial

Practice Areas

Extra info

20 Cursitor Street, London, EC4A 1LT
Phone: 020 7831 9222
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.macfarlanes.com
Work placement: Yes
Number of work placements: 65
Minimum qualification: 2:1 anticipated or achieved (mitigating circumstances are taken into account)
Start salary: £50,000
Fees paid for:
  • CPE/GDL
  • LPC
  • SQE
Turnover: £216,000,000 (2018)
Profit per partner: £1,744,000 (2018)
Training programme applications: 1,375 (2023)
Retention rate: 97% (2023)
Partner diversity:
  • 86.0% male (2023)
  • 14.0% female
Lawyer diversity:
  • 50.0% male (2023)
  • 50.0% female
  • London
  • BPP Legal Advice Clinic
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • FareShare
  • Lawyers Without Borders
  • Legal Advice Centres
  • North London Cares
  • St Hilda's Legal Advice Service
  • The National Pro Bono Centre
  • ACS in the City
  • Afro-Caribbean Network
  • Aspiring Solicitors
  • Bright Network
  • East London Business Alliance
  • ELBA
  • InterLaw Diversity Forum
  • Legal CORE
  • PRIME
  • Rare Recruitment
  • SEO London
  • Social Mobility Foundation
  • Stonewall