Spotlight Notebook

Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme

Paving a new way to qualification. You can qualify as a solicitor by undertaking on-the-job training while studying for a law degree and the Solicitors Qualifying Examinations (SQE) over six years.

Our Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme combines study with work to allow you to qualify as a solicitor without incurring student debt often associated with attending university. You will learn on-the-job at our London office, alongside a small cohort of solicitor apprentices, while studying for one day a week at the University of Law to obtain a law degree and complete the Solicitors Qualifying Examinations (SQE). At the end of the apprenticeship, you will be a qualified solicitor.


Prior to admission to the Roll of Solicitors, all aspiring solicitors qualifying through the Solicitors Qualifying Examinations (SQE) route must:

  • have a UK awarded degree or equivalent Level 6 qualification;
  • pass both stages of the SQE assessment (SQE1 and SQE2);
  • undertake two years’ full time (or equivalent) Qualifying Work Experience (QWE); and
  • pass the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) character and suitability requirements. 
An apprentice who has successfully completed a solicitor apprenticeship, which is a Level 7 qualification, and who passes the SQE assessments will have met these requirements and will be able to apply for admission to the Roll of Solicitors to become a qualified solicitor in England and Wales. We are partnering with The University of Law to deliver a LLB Law degree and SQE programme over your 6-year apprenticeship. The LLB is designed to prepare you for the academic challenges of the SQE examinations, as well as the fundamental skills, technical excellence, and commercial awareness required for your role as a lawyer at Bird & Bird. All tuition fees and course materials are covered by the firm.

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By working four-days a week at our London office over 6-years, you will complete your QWE.
You will spend time in different departments, known as ‘seats’, giving you a rich learning experience and development opportunities. You will get exposure to different areas of law whilst working alongside an array of lawyers and clients, as you find the area you want to pursue and qualify into. During each seat, you will be assigned to a dedicated supervisor who is an associate or partner in the department. We have eight departments: Corporate, Commercial, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Finance & Financial Regulation, Intellectual Property, Real Estate, and Tax. Within our departments, we have sector and sub-sector specialisms, which you will experience in each seat.

You may also experience a client secondment to further your experience. On a client secondment, you will develop your commercial edge by understanding their business from the inside.

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Learning & Development

Prior to starting your first seat, you will have a comprehensive induction designed by our Early Careers and Learning & Development team, providing you with the basic building blocks for your personal growth and professional success as a solicitor apprentice. From practical learning to insight sessions and skill-based workshops, we will ensure that you are set up for success. We will introduce you to all areas of the firm, from business services to fee earners, strengthening your understanding of how we operate as one seamless international, sector-focused firm.
We will also assign you an Apprentice Mentor to support you throughout your programme, acting as a point of contact from induction to qualification.

Alongside your seat rotations, you will take part in a tailored Learning & Development Programme which will equip you with a broad range of technical and business skills. This programme is led by a mixture of internal and external speakers in a combination of online and in-person sessions. You will put this learning into context as you rotate around different departments throughout your apprenticeship.

You will receive regular feedback from your supervisors and the Early Careers team to provide you with the support and guidance fundamental to you excelling in your law career.

From induction to qualification, networking and social events will allow you to immerse you in our friendly, vibrant culture. You can also get involved in pro-bono and CRS initiatives, support the Early Career team with events and mentoring, or get involved in other firm-wide opportunities such as sports teams and our employee networks.

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At the end of your apprenticeship, you will qualify as a solicitor and each year we hope to retain most of our apprentices in newly qualified (NQ) roles across the firm.

Bird Benefits

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Equip yourself with a broad range of technical and business skills and progress your deep understanding through our tailored learning and development curriculum.

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£25,000 first-year salary.

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All tuition fees and course materials covered for your studies.

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Tailor your learning to Bird & Bird with our bespoke SQE+ programme and two-week induction prior to starting your Training Contract.

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Opportunity to socialise and study with your apprentice cohort, to build your legal network.

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Network and socialise with colleagues through our socials and events, immersing yourself in our friendly, vibrant culture.

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Health and wellbeing in mind with a benefits package that includes private medical insurance, health assessments, maternity and paternity leave, shared parental leave, adoption leave, gym membership, flu vaccinations, eyecare, and dental insurance.

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Flexible benefits package for your lifestyle, including 25 days of paid holiday annually, travel insurance, interest-free season ticket loan, computer loan, cycle to work scheme, and give as you earn charity account.

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Bespoke benefits package for your finance, including 5% pension contribution, group income protection, group life assurance, group critical illness, and will writing.

Diversity & Inclusion

We know an inclusive culture, alongside a diverse workforce, makes us more innovative and agile. 

The ability to connect the dots and leap to inspired solutions can't be underestimated. We believe it’s this pioneering approach that unlocks a world of opportunity. So, we work tirelessly to build a culture that makes it possible – possible for our people, our clients and our communities. We stay curious and work in truly international teams. It's what our clients value and it helps us to be the firm we want to be. 

Global D&I       UK D&I 

The shift to a more sustainable way of doing business needs people who embrace change and spark innovation. We’re up for the challenge, are you?

Sustainability is a core strategic initiative for us – It’s vital to our people, our clients and our planet. We embrace the step change needed to transform our business; not just minimising our environmental impact but, as a global citizen, making a positive contribution towards a more sustainable future. 

We believe that technology can be a force for good. Our work with some of the world’s most cutting edge companies gives us first-hand insight into the innovative approaches that create a new blueprint for sustainable living, so where possible we apply this to our own firm too.

We routinely manage our buildings responsibly, consider the impact of business travel, reduce waste and consumption and recycle wherever we can. More importantly, we commit to business decisions that support our sustainability pledges alongside our long-term economic growth strategies.

Global Sustainability       UK Sustainability

Pro Bono

The ability to help isn't always enough. In today's world, more often than not, what's needed is time. We believe Pro Bono is time well spent.

For us pro bono isn’t an add on. We are passionate about making a positive difference to people’s lives, and giving back to the communities we work within.

We give pro bono our time, consideration, and full expertise. Because our culture is focused on making it possible. Possible for our people, our clients and our communities. We believe we can open up possibilities for individuals and organisations in need, by contributing the time, legal expertise, skills, and resources needed to progress their cause.

It’s all the more satisfying when we can work together, with our clients and other key stakeholders to foster and develop collaborative opportunities that have a greater positive social impact as a result.

Global Pro Bono       UK Pro Bono

Corporate Social Responsibility

We believe in taking an active role in supporting our communities to make a difference.

We’re an outward-looking firm. We're interested in the world, current issues and emerging trends. We work with great clients doing great things. Things that have a real impact on the way the world does business, and how we all live. So, it's not surprising that we also want to have a positive influence by supporting our local communities. 

We work alongside our clients to champion initiatives that make an impact on the community around us. Our people dedicate time through volunteering and fundraising, and partner with charities across the world to truly amplify our impact.

Global CSR      UK CSR

Applying to us

Applications open on Thursday 26 October 2023 and close on Friday 1 March 2024 at midnight. We are recruiting for a September 2024 start. You can apply if you are in Year 13 or if you have recently left school and have, or expect to have, 5 GCSEs at grade 4-9 (C-A*) including Maths and English, and AAB at A-Level or equivalent.

We operate rolling recruitment, which means we screen applications as they are received, rather than after our deadline. We encourage you to apply as early as possible.
Please note, our apprenticeship is not open to those who have completed a degree. At Bird & Bird, there are two different routes to qualification – as a solicitor apprentice or as a trainee solicitor. If you have or are currently studying a university degree, you can become a trainee solicitor by attending a Vacation Scheme or applying directly for a training contract.

Build your employability skills, search for events and law fairs, and take part in online work experience before applying by visiting our online resources here

Inclusive Recruitment

Inclusivity is integral to us.

From attraction and marketing to recruitment and selection, and HR and development, the Early Careers team is committed to diversity and inclusion, social mobility, and equality. We know an inclusive culture, alongside a diverse workforce, makes us more innovative and agile as a firm. We are keen to create a recruitment process where everyone feels supported to succeed, to ensure that we recruit the top candidates onto our programmes, no matter their background or circumstance. It is also the right thing to do.

Our highlights:

  • To minimise bias, we operate blind screening and blind interviewing, so all identification details and previous assessments are hidden from our assessors and interviewers.
  • To increase support, we offer confidential advice to candidates with a disability, neurodiversity, mental health, and long-term health problems on adjustments at each stage of the recruitment process to ensure they have a barrier-free recruitment experience. If you require adjustments, you can email our Early Careers team.
  • To increase accessibility, we’re recruiting the majority of our candidates online, with online application forms, online Watson-Glaser tests, online video interviews, and (some) virtual assessment centres. Our Flying Start Programme, Virtual Experience Programme and Open Days are entirely online.
  • To increase diversity in underrepresented groups, we introduced a Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) into our recruitment process. Since August 2018, we have used contextual data to help us identify candidates with the greatest potential despite their significant academic, personal or socio-economic disadvantage. We can recognise the achievements of candidates in the context in which they were gained.
  • To increase diversity in the legal professional, we partner with a number of platforms, networks and initiatives to educate and equip aspiring lawyers with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. For example, we work with 10,000 Black InternsAspiring Solicitors, and Vantage.

Sustainability is a core strategic initiative for us – it is vital to our people, our clients, and our planet.

 From paper brochures to tote bags, plastic bottles, and travelling across the country, we recognise the impact of recruitment on the environment, and we’re committed to making a greener way of recruiting. The Early Careers UK team are transforming the way in which they recruit, with sustainability in mind.

Early Careers UK highlights:

  • We are using digital brochures and/or QR codes for people to access our information. You can access all our early career opportunities online, via our social media or website.
  • We no longer travel across the UK to universities to participate in in-person law fairs or events, as part of our sustainability and diversity and inclusion initiative. Instead, we are adopting a hybrid approach by hosting online events and ensuring that any in-person events are accessible by public transport or are hosted at our London office.
  • We are reducing our production of merchandise in Early Careers UK, and anything we do produce will be from a sustainable, ethical source.
  • We are recruiting the majority of our candidates online, with online application forms, online Watson-Glaser tests, online video interviews, and (some) virtual assessment centres. Our Flying Start Programme, Virtual Experience Programme and Open Days are entirely online.
  • We are reducing the amount of meat served at our events and offering more meat-alternatives for vegetarians, vegans, and those with dietary requirements.