HSF Trainee Associate Programme

Finance, IT, Analytics.

Your Growth. Our Ambition.

Our trainee associates are the future, so it’s only right that we invest in them. When you join the Trainee Associate Programme at HSF, you’ll work on high-profile cases, network with prestigious clients, and undergo specialist knowledge, skills and mindset training.

You'll be elevated in your personal life too, with fantastic benefits and support networks designed to help trainees from a diversity of backgrounds. Your new career starts here.

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 recognise that talented people grow best by experiencing work which excites, challenges and stretches them whilst receiving the appropriate blend of support and structured learning to ensure they thrive. We believe that your growth will define our success as a firm. That's why we've kept it front of mind when designing our Trainee Associate Programme.

We only recruit our future trainees from our Vacation Schemes where students are assessed by their supervisors and given an assessed piece of work across your chosen two seats. We look at a combination of these assessments when making offers on our Trainee Associate Programme. 

Who are Herbert Smith Freehills?

We’re a leading, full-service, global law firm delivering high-profile work that matters to our clients, on some of the world’s biggest cases and deals. With an award-winning depth of expertise across a wide variety of sectors, geographies and legal specialisms, you don’t just watch from the sidelines here, you hit the ground running, make a difference and tackle the important issues. Join us and you’ll be involved in new situations and experiences and discover new skills to learn and apply. 

Why join us?


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.


We created the Trainee Associate Programme to ensure our trainee associates are given the best opportunities to develop the skills they need to become a successful lawyer. 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 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.


There are opportunities to undertake a client or an international secondment. 

What we look for:

Personal leadership

You must demonstrate an interest in client relationships and building upon these. You should also be able to show us 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. While a minimum of a 2:1 is preferred, we take mitigating circumstances into account. There’s space on the application form to include these details and they will be taken into consideration throughout the application process.

Contributions to the team’s success

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

Working styles

You can demonstrate competency by giving examples of organisational skills and showing your ability to cope well under pressure.

Motivation for a career in law here

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

Entry criteria

Must complete HSF vacation scheme and receive an offer for a training contract

Your benefits:

  • £50k-£120k salary
  • 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

How do I apply?

We only recruit our future trainee associates from our vacation schemes, and to be eligible for the schemes, you must be a graduate or in your penultimate or final year at university. When making our decision, we look at assessments made by supervisors and an assessed piece of work in each of the two seats.

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. 
The scheme gives you the chance to get to know us and see what life at Herbert Smith Freehills would be like before you make a decision about your career, so make the most of this opportunity.

For those who are unable to attend a vacation scheme, please get in touch with the graduate recruitment team at graduates.uk@hsf.com to discuss your individual circumstances, which we will consider on a case-by-case basis.

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  • Deadline
  • Hiring Multiple Candidates
  • Salary
    £50,000 - £120,000 + benefits
  • Degree required
    2:1 and above
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Preferred Disciplines...
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