Graduate Opportunity

2023 HSF Trainee Associate Programme

IT/Cyber Security/Finance.

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Entry criteria: Must complete a HSF vacation scheme

Elevate your Ambition

We want our Trainee Associates to develop into the Herbert Smith Freehills Partners of the future and we aim to retain as many of our Trainee Associates as possible on qualification. Our Trainee Associate Programme offers four six-month seats. We are one of the few firms who allow you to select your seat preferences ahead of each rotation, allowing you to tailor your Trainee Associate Programme as your interests develop.

Discovering real-world applications

David Hemming, Trainee in Real Estate, explains how his placement with GSK actually helped him firm on a career in Law at Herbert Smith Freehills.

To watch the full Gradcracker/Herbert Smith Freehills webinar, click here.

We only recruit our future trainees from our Vacation Schemes where students are assessed by their supervisors and also given an assessed piece of work by their supervisors in each of the two seats. We look at a combination of those things when making offers on our Trainee Associate Programme. 

Who are Herbert Smith Freehills?

Join us and you’ll be involved in high-profile cases, high-impact deals and prestigious client relationships – making a difference and tackling the big issues. You'll get involved in new situations and experiences and discover new skills to learn and apply.

We are a leading, full-service, global law firm working on some of the world’s biggest cases and deals at the forefront of the world’s most exciting sectors. With an award-winning depth of expertise across a wide variety of sectors, geographies and legal specialisms, we are the place to elevate your ambition.

Why join?


As well as ensuring we recruit from a range of backgrounds, we take a roughly equal split of law and non-law students. This diversity of experience and perspectives allows us to develop creative solutions to our clients’ problems.


To ensure our Trainee Associates are given the best opportunities to develop the skills they need to become a successful lawyer, we have created the Trainee Associate Programme. Through our Business Skills Academy, Trainee Associates will be equipped with the business knowledge, skills and mindset they need to work on the biggest matters and deals with our clients across the globe.

You’ll undertake over 128 hours of structured learning and development, from interactive workshops to Professional Skills Course training.

A partner will mentor you as you progress through your training contract, and in each seat you’ll share your office with either a Senior Associate or a Partner who's committed to supporting your personal and professional development.


If you’re keen to develop client relationship skills and business growth strategies, you can join our entrepreneurial Trainee Business Development Committee (TBDC). The TBDC is a trainee-run initiative that empowers trainees to contribute to our business development strategies through networking with clients and building business development skills.

You’ll get the opportunity to submit seat preferences before every rotation, including before your first seat, enabling you to tailor your training contract to your specific interests. You can also discuss your preferences with our dedicated trainee HR team.


Over 84% of our trainees go on either a client or an international secondment. There are also opportunities to qualify into one of our international offices. 

What we look for

Personal leadership

Demonstrate an interest in client relationships and how you would go about building on these. You should also be able to demonstrate good active listening skills and persuasive skills to gain support for ideas.

Technical capability

As well as considered reasoning and a desire to learn, using initiative is a key skill for a trainee. Think about how you would seek out new opportunities in order to gain a deeper understanding of the role.

Intellectual capability

Academic excellence should be demonstrated through degree classification. Whilst a minimum of a 2:1 is preferred, we take mitigating circumstances into account. There is space on the application form to include these details which are taken into consideration throughout the application process.

Contributions to the team’s success

Communication skills are critical for trainees, think about examples where you have been able to bring about positive outcomes by communicating and collaborating with colleagues.

Working styles

Students can demonstrate this competency by giving examples of organisational skills and showing that they are able to cope well under pressure. 

Motivation for a career in law at Herbert Smith Freehills

Think about why you have chosen to pursue a career in commercial law, and why Herbert Smith Freehills in particular.

How do I apply?

We only recruit our future Trainee Associates from our Vacation Schemes where students are assessed by their supervisors and also given an assessed piece of work by their supervisors in each of the two seats. We look at a combination of those things when making offers. These schemes have been specifically designed to build and test the unique combination of skills and potential required to succeed at Herbert Smith Freehills.

It’s really important to us that you have the combination of skills and potential that we’re looking for: it will enable you to become a better lawyer, build stronger connections with our team and hit the ground running when you start your career here.

It’s a two-way process. The scheme gives you the chance to get to know us and see what life for you would be like at Herbert Smith Freehills before you make a decision about your career.

What are the benefits?

  • Salary: Starting salary £50k, upon qualification up to £120k (including salary and bonus)
  • 25 days’ annual leave
  • Cycle to work scheme
  • Medical, dental, travel and gadget insurance
  • Subsidised gym membership
  • Pension contributions from Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Interest-free season ticket loan
  • Corporate discounts

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Opportunity Overview

  • Deadline: Ongoing
  • Multiple vacancies
  • Starting Salary: £50,000, upon qualification up to £120,000 (including salary and bonus) + benefits
  • All grades
  • London
    (Show map)

Preferred Disciplines...

  • Analytics
  • Computer Science
  • Cyber Security
  • Data Science
  • Finance
  • Hardware
  • Information Technology
  • Maths
  • Software
  • Statistics
  • Systems

Also Accepting...

  • All STEM disciplines

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