Sidley’s London office offers students the best of both worlds — the experience of working in one of the largest international law firms along with the, down-to-earth friendliness of a smaller office. Here you will find high-quality work at a firm that offers an energetic, meritocratic, and supportive environment.
There is a world of opportunities for you to get involved and make your mark at Sidley, from trainee right through to partner. We have a reputation for working on innovative, complex transactions, which helps make life here all the more interesting and challenging.
Diversity, equity and inclusion
Sidley’s commitment to diversity, equity & inclusion is not limited to policies but shown in the level of support provided, making this key to life at the firm. We have two global committees, both of which focus on pursuing strategies that maximize the firm’s success in attracting, recruiting and promoting lawyers from groups typically underrepresented in the legal profession to partnership and positions of authority and leadership within the firm. Such underrepresented groups include, but are not limited to, ethnic minority lawyers, lawyers with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ lawyers and women. Both committees have a direct line of communication to our Management Committee and our Executive Committee. This means that all voices are heard and information about the experience of being a lawyer here flows to the very people who make decisions about how the firm is run.
Sustainability has always been a key priority for the London office and impacts the way we work on a daily basis. Externally, we ensure that all vendors who provide a service for our London office share our environmental values and are focused on limiting our impact and finding suitable eco-friendly alternatives. At Sidley, we are dedicated to doing our part to ensure a sustainable future, conducting business in a responsible and mindful way that creates long-term value for our people, clients, and communities. We aim to minimize our impact on the environment by setting ambitious climate commitments to reduce our carbon emissions, as well as by creating a more sustainable workplace and culture across our global firm. From routine but important acts — such as recycling paper and waste — to impactful legal and pro bono work that empowers businesses and social enterprises alike, sustainability is integral to our operations.
In 2020, the London office relocated to a brand new building which was designed with sustainability in mind and has aspirations to be a net-zero building by 2024. Sidley London also runs an awareness initiative in collaboration with our working group, the Environmental Awareness Group. This group allows employees from all levels of the firm to generate ideas for change and best practice, and has a key focus on increasing internal awareness about the small differences individuals can make to minimise our impact as a collective.
Sidley London’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme has been designed to allow our employees to help with the causes that mean the most to them while also working collectively to address the primary needs of our local community. Our flagship charity partnership was launched in early 2022 which allows us to have long-lasting impact. YMCA London City and North, and Sidley’s office in London have joined together for a five-year partnership to create a brand new multi-functional youth hub based in Islington. This project will support vulnerable young people living in London by providing essential services and creating a safe and welcoming environment.
Sidley’s financial contributions mean this new space will reach at least 1,000 young people in its onset and will lay the foundation to help more young Londoners in years to come. Beyond fundraising, Sidley’s staff will be participating in volunteering and mentoring activities.
Additionally, all Sidley London personnel are allowed up to two community investment days, which allow them paid time off to work with any registered charity of their choosing. Our charitable partnerships focus on young people and equal access to City careers. Annually, Sidley personnel mentor around 20 young people from a local academy to raise aspirations and encourage them to focus on their studies. The London office also runs a work experience week in collaboration with the PRIME Commitment. This allows a group of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to learn more about life in the City.
Pro bono is an integral part of Sidley’s culture and we regard pro bono service as an essential part of our professional responsibility. We encourage our trainee solicitors to get involved in pro bono matters from day one because we know that our trainees want to give back to communities and develop their skills as lawyers whilst doing so.
Under our London pro bono programme, we help individuals and families who face significant barriers in obtaining access to justice. We work with a range of organisations, from small charities to start-up social enterprises, focusing on enhancing community impact and strengthening human rights. We also support front-line legal service organisations by sponsoring a number of Pro Bono Fellowships. Each year, all final seat trainees are invited to apply to undertake a three-month fellowship secondment in a charity or non-profit, prior to commencing their roles as newly qualified associates.
London Trainee Solicitor Programme
About Our Programme
We aim to recruit all of our trainees from the vacation schemes. Each year, we take on around 15 recruits.
During your training contract, you will have many opportunities to learn and develop new skills. You will get involved in real work from day one, and will gain international experience by working on multijurisdictional matters with people from around the world.
Trainees spend time in at least four of our practice groups, which include: Banking and Financial Services, Capital Markets, Global Finance, Healthcare and FDA, Insurance, Investment Funds, Litigation, M&A and Private Equity, Regulatory and Enforcement, Restructuring, and Tax.
Trainees also have the opportunity to apply for international secondments, as well as ad hoc client secondments.
In each group, you will be supervised by a partner or associate to ensure that you receive individual training that is both effective and based on practical experience. In addition, there is a structured timetable of training on a cross-section of subjects.
We take a flexible approach that is driven by your ability and willingness to contribute and develop. As a result, you can get as much as you like out of a particular seat, depending on how much you invest in it.
Continuing Your Career with Us
When you join us, we’d like it to be for the long term. We have an excellent track record of retaining trainees on qualiﬁcation. Ideally, you will stay at Sidley once you’ve qualiﬁed and continue developing with us all the way to partnership.
Compensation and BenefitsTrainees receive a salary of £55,000 in their first year, which increases to £60,000 in the second year, alongside a selection of market-leading benefits. Upon progressing to a newly qualified associate, your annual salary rises to £159,500.
Click here to view our competitive benefits package.
Law Conversion Course (PGDL)/ SQE Financial AssistanceWe offer ﬁnancial assistance to our future trainee solicitors for the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) conversion course, if applicable, and the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) preparation course. We cover the course fees and provide an annual maintenance grant, which currently is £13,000 for PGDL studies and £17,000 for SQE studies.
London Undergraduate Bursary Programme
Sidley is a premier law firm with a practice highly attuned to the ever changing international landscape. The firm has built a reputation for being an adviser for global business, with more than 2,000 lawyers in 20 offices worldwide. Sidley maintains a commitment to providing quality legal services spanning virtually every area of law. The firm’s lawyers have wide-reaching legal backgrounds and are dedicated to teamwork, collaboration and superior client service.
Sidley’s London office offers the best of both worlds – the experience of working in one of the largest international law firms along with the relaxed, down-to-earth friendliness of a smaller office.
During your time as a Sidley bursary recipient there will be a world of opportunities for you to get involved, from connecting with your trainee solicitor mentor to attending one of our vacation schemes, you will see that the work we do is innovative and challenging.
As part of our ongoing commitment to increasing diversity at Sidley and in the wider legal profession, our bursary programme will provide financial support to talented law undergraduates from less advantaged backgrounds. We hope that our financial support will minimise financial concerns and enable recipients to focus more on their studies and making the most of opportunities available to them during their time at university.
Successful students will receive a bursary of £3,500 upon commencement of their law degree in 2023. This will be paid in three equal instalments of £1,166.66 in September 2023, January and April 2024.
Assuming that you achieve a 2.1 or above in your first year of study and engage successfully in the additional elements of the bursary programme, Sidley will consider providing the same level of financial sponsorship for your second year at university. The same will apply to your third and where applicable, fourth year at university.
Additional Elements of the Programme
We recognise the importance of non-financial support in ensuring your time at university is as successful as possible. Whilst you are in receipt of the bursary you will also participate in the following initiatives:
Trainee Solicitor Mentor
Whilst in receipt of the bursary you will be paired with a current trainee solicitor who will act as an invaluable buddy. The trainee will be available to assist you with questions related to your university course and your potential legal career.
Work Experience Placement
You will be invited to undertake a week of work experience with the firm during your first year at university at a time convenient for both you and the firm. Not only will the placement give you an insight into the work of a lawyer at Sidley, it will also provide you with useful information about the firm and skills based sessions to help you pursue a legal career.
Should it be required, the firm will provide you with, and meet the cost of, suitable accommodation in London during the placement.
In order to apply for our bursary programme, the following criteria should be met:
- You attend a UK state school (i.e. non-fee paying school) or sixth form college; and
- Your family has an annual aggregate family/household annual income of no more than £30,000; and
- You will be the first generation of your immediate family to attend university;1 and
- You are predicted to achieve AAA at A-level (or equivalent);2 and
- You have an offer to read law at a UK university to commence in 2023.
Additionally, you must be able to provide evidence that you are:
- A full time carer; and/or
- Eligible for free school meals or attend a school where 20% of pupils are eligible for free school meals.3
How to Apply
The Selection Process
Applicants will be shortlisted based on their written application, academic records and reference. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview with Sidley personnel, likely to include partners from our London Recruiting and Diversity Committees. The firm will meet the cost of reasonable travel expenses to enable you to attend our office in London for the interview. We may be able to accommodate a virtual interview.
1 You are eligible if your siblings or cousins attend or have attended university.
2 We will ask your school or sixth form to confirm your predicted grades.
3 You do not need to be claiming free school meals. You only need to be eligible to receive them. If you are unsure whether 20% of pupils at your school are eligible, you can ask your school or check online at https://www.find-school-performance-data.service.gov.uk/.
London Vacation Scheme
We run a one-week winter vacation scheme and two-week vacation schemes in spring and summer each year.
During the scheme, you will experience the day-to-day life of a lawyer at the firm and will have the opportunity to undertake real work rather than just observing or shadowing. This practical experience will be supplemented by a programme of presentations and workshops that will ensure you get to know as much about the firm as you possibly can during the placement.
There will also be some organised social events to help you get to know our current trainees.
Click here to view our trainee solicitor recruitment brochure.
You’re eligible to apply for the vacation scheme if you are a penultimate-year or final-year law undergraduate, final-year non-law undergraduate, or graduate.
If you have a visa to study in the UK, you will need to ensure that our vacation scheme falls outside of your term time.
If you require a visa to work in the UK, we offer visa sponsorship for successful vacation scheme applicants.
We are looking for applicants who:
- Have a minimum of AAA at A-level or equivalent
- Are anticipating at least a 2:1 degree or equivalent
- Are genuinely intrigued by the commercial world
- Can demonstrate a strong ability to analyse and learn
- Can work well with others and interact with clients
- Have perseverance and initiative
We consider mitigating circumstances and use the Rare Contextual Recruitment System to ensure a fair evaluation of candidates. Additionally, we review all application forms holistically to better understand each applicant’s potential and qualifications.
Application and Selection
The applications for our Winter 2023 and Spring/Summer 2024 vacation schemes open on 17 September 2023.
The deadline for the Winter scheme is 15 October 2023 and the deadline for Spring/Summer is 7 January 2024.
All applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. If you are selected for the next stage of the process, we will invite you to a 1:1 interview with our partners/counsel. If successful, we will offer you a vacation scheme place.
To apply, please complete the online form, available here.
Vacation Scheme dates:
2023 Winter Vacation Scheme:
11 December 2023 – 15 December 2023
2024 Spring Vacation Scheme:
2 April 2024 – 12 April 2024
2024 Summer Vacation Scheme 1:
17 June 2024 – 28 June 2024
2024 Summer Vacation Scheme 2:
1 July 2024 – 12 July 2024
Students will receive £500 per week. Candidates from less advantaged backgrounds can apply for additional support to support their vacation scheme.
Sidley Insight Day
We offer regular insight days throughout the year in our London office. During the Insight Day you will be given the chance to speak informally to Trainees, Associates and Partners. Our Graduate Recruitment team will also be available to offer advice on applying for training contracts.
You will be given an overview of the firm and its practice areas so that you get a feel for our environment and culture. We hope the day will give you a real insight into life at Sidley and help you decide whether this is the firm at which you would like to train.
Upcoming Insight Days
This event is open to first year law and first/second year non-law students who are aiming to make a vacation scheme application in October 2024 with a view of starting a Training Contract in 2026.
When can I apply for a vacation scheme?
You can apply for a vacation scheme if you are in your penultimate year of a law degree, final year of a non-law degree, or if you have graduated and are ready to start a training contract in 2026.
How many vacation schemes do you run? How many places are there per scheme?
We run 4 vacation schemes per year, and there are 13 places in each scheme.
I do not meet the minimum academic criteria, can I still apply?
Our minimum criteria is AAA at A-level and a 2:1 degree in any discipline. Applications are not screened automatically, and mitigating circumstances are taken into account.
Do you take contextual information into account when screening applications?
Yes, we use the Rare Contextual Recruitment System to make sure that all candidates are assessed fairly within the context of their circumstances.
Do you recruit on a rolling basis?
Yes, applications for vacation schemes are assessed on a rolling basis.
I have applied before, can I apply again?
If you feel that there is a considerable difference in your application, please feel free to reapply.
I am a mature/international student, can I still apply? Do you sponsor visas?
Yes, you are welcome to apply. We sponsor visas for successful vacation scheme applicants.
What is the format of the vacation scheme interview?
The interview will be a one-on-one session with our partners or counsel, scheduled for a duration of 1 hour and 15 minutes. While we aim to conduct in-person interviews, we remain flexible and open to accommodating virtual interview requests from international applicants.
How many trainees do you typically take on?
We are looking to recruit around 15 trainees per intake.
Do you have more than one intake per year?
At present, we have one intake starting in August.
Do you recruit all of your trainees from the vacation scheme?
Yes, we recruit all of our trainees from the vacation schemes, and we do not have a direct training contract application.
I am qualified in another jurisdiction, should I apply for a training contract?
As a qualified lawyer, please send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be considered for an associate position with a view to completing the SQE.