London Trainee Solicitor Programme
Why Choose Sidley?
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 relaxed, down-to-earth friendliness of a smaller office. Here you will find high-quality work on par with Magic Circle firms and 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 to make life here all the more interesting and challenging.
The London Office
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.
Diversity & Inclusion
Sidley’s commitment to diversity & 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 and women. The key thing to note is that 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. 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. All Sidley personnel are required to use a central recycling bank and are given reusable coffee cups, there are no single-use plastics in the office, and printing capabilities are tailored to minimize paper waste. 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.
During Your Training
You will have many opportunities to learn and develop during your training. You will get involved in real work from day one, and will gain international experience not by constantly traveling but by working on multijurisdictional matters and with people from all 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, which 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.
Compensation and Benefits
The firm provides a market leading benefits package. Click here to view the details.
Law Foundations Course (PGDL)/SQE Financial Assistance
We offer ﬁnancial assistance to our future trainee solicitors for the Law Foundations Course (formally PGDL) if applicable. We pay the course fees and provide an annual maintenance grant, which currently is £13,000.
We also cover the cost of the SQE preparation courses and exam fees as well as a competitive maintenance grant.
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.
How to Apply
Each year we take on around 15 recruits. We’re looking for people who are bright, with outstanding academic qualifications. You’ll need to have a minimum of three A-levels (at least three A grades), and to have (or be expected to achieve) at least a 2.1 degree or equivalent (not necessarily in law).
Beyond pure academic ability, we’re looking for people who are genuinely intrigued by the commercial world. People who are sociable, who can work well with others and get on well with clients. People who have demonstrated self-discipline, the ability to persevere and use their initiative. If you can focus, analyse things and ask the right questions, you’ll be in a strong position.
We aim to recruit all of our trainees from the vacation schemes.
If you have any questions, please email UKGraduateRecruitment@sidley.com.
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.
If you have any questions, please contact Katy Webb (020 7360 2052) or Jerry Gallagher (020 7360 3796).
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.
Click here to view our trainee solicitor recruitment brochure.
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.
Students will receive £500 per week.
Application and selection
The applications for our winter 2022 and spring/summer 2023 vacation schemes open on 1 October 2022.
The deadline for the winter scheme is 24 October 2022 and the deadline for spring/summer is 27 January 2023.
To make an application please complete the online form, available here.
Vacation Scheme dates:
2022 Winter Vacation Scheme:
12 to 16 December 2022
2023 Spring Vacation Scheme:
27 March to 6 April
2023 Summer 1 Vacation Scheme:
12 to 23 June
2023 Summer 2 Vacation Scheme:
26 June to 7 July
If you have any questions, please email UKGraduateRecruitment@sidley.com.
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 2023 with a view of starting a Training Contract in 2026.
The deadline for our Insight Event is 31 January 2023. To make an application please complete the online form, available here.
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?
No, at present we have one intake starting in August.
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 and in context of their circumstances.
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.
Do you recruit on a rolling basis?
Applications for vacation schemes are assessed on a rolling basis.
I am a mature/international student, can I still apply?
Yes, as long as your academic grades meet the equivalent of AAA at A Level and a 2:1 degree.
I am qualified in another jurisdiction, should I apply for a training contract?
No, 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 QLTS.
When can I apply for a Vacation Scheme?
You can apply for a vacation scheme from your penultimate year of a law degree, final year of a non-law degree or if you have graduated and you’re ready to start a Training Contract in 2025.
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.