Training Contract

Excellence expected, shaped and delivered.

To become a trainee solicitor at Bird & Bird, you can apply through two different routes: attending a Vacation Scheme or applying directly for a training contract.

Training beyond your expectations. Becoming a trainee at Bird & Bird is the first step to fulfilling your potential and shaping your long-term career. You will have responsibility from day one, working for stimulating clients across a range of sectors. You will experience four seats in different practice areas for six-months each during your training contract, giving you a rich learning experience and development opportunities.

Life of a Trainee


While I was a future trainee, the firm supported me during my law studies and provided me with work opportunities. Prior to starting my training contract, I was a paralegal in the firm’s Risk & Compliance team and then an intern at one of the firm’s top clients.

Intisar Abdi Trainee Solicitor

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From my intention to pursue top-tier intellectual property litigation work, to my unnatural obsession with football being brought to legal life in my sports regulatory seat, the work I have carried out has completely surpassed my expectations.

Naji Tilley Trainee Solicitor

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I was involved in the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives in my first seat, such as helping to launch our Period Positivity drive which saw free, sustainable sanitary products brought into bathrooms at our office – I did not expect to contribute towards such a big change so early on.

Vruksha Patel Trainee 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.

If we offer you a training contract before you commence your SQE studies, we will pay course fees and a maintenance grant while you complete the LLM in Legal Practice including SQE1 and SQE2 at the University of Law. Your QWE will be completed over your two-year training contract. Therefore, by the end of your training contract you will have met the SRA’s requirements and will be able to apply for admission to the Roll of Solicitors to become a qualified solicitor in England and Wales.

While the SRA no longer requires aspiring solicitors to complete a law degree to be able to qualify, at Bird & Bird we still require all future trainees to either complete a law degree or the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) before commencing the LLM in Legal Practice. We partner with The University of Law to deliver a bespoke SQE programme prior to your training contract. The SQE1 tests your legal knowledge and the SQE2 which assesses practical legal skills. You must pass each stage of the SQE before progressing onto the next. The SQE+ programme is a tailored experience for our future trainees joining Bird & Bird, designed in collaboration with The University of Law.

For more information on the SQE, visit The University of Law.

See our FAQs for more

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Induction programme

Your relationship with us starts from the moment you secure your training contract. You will be invited to firm-wide socials, events, and be updated on firm news. Our aim is to ensure your transition into the firm is as smooth as possible. We will also assign a Trainee Buddy to support you during this period of change, acting as a point of contact from offer letter to qualification.

Prior to starting your first seat, you will have a comprehensive two-week induction designed by our Learning & Development team, providing you with the basic building blocks for your personal growth and professional success as a trainee solicitor. 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.

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Qualifying Work Experience

At Bird & Bird, your QWE is your training contract. You will spend time in four different departments for six-months each, known as ‘seats’, giving you a rich learning experience and development opportunities. During each seat, you will be assigned to a dedicated supervisor who is an associate or partner.

Within our departments, we have sector and sub-sector specialisms. 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.

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

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Learning & Development

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 training contract.

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 corporate social responsibility (CSR) 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 two-year training contract, you will qualify as a solicitor and each year we hope to retain most of our trainees in newly qualified (NQ) roles across the firm.
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

Bird Benefits

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Our agile approach to office and remote working enables you to find the right balance to thrive at work. Supporting you, our business and our clients in a flexible way. All Trainee Solicitors can remote work 20% of the time.

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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.

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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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£47,000 first-year salary, £52,000 second-year salary, and £95,000 newly qualified salary

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£10,000 maintenance grant and all fees covered for the PGDL and £15,000 maintenance grant and all fees covered for SQE 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 cohort before starting your Training Contract, 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.

Applying to us

To become a trainee solicitor at Bird & Bird, you can apply through two different routes: attending a Vacation Schemes or applying directly for a training contract. We are recruiting for our August/September 2026 cohort.


Applications open on Thursday 14 September 2023. Our Spring Vacation Scheme applications close on Friday 1 December 2023, our Summer Vacation Scheme applications close on Friday 22 December 2023, and our direct training contract applications close on Friday 12 January 2024 at midnight. 

You can apply if you can commence a training contract in 2026. This means you will be in your penultimate-year of a law degree, final-year of a non-law degree, or a graduate. 

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.

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.

Please note that you cannot apply for a Vacation Scheme and directly for a training contract in the same recruitment year. You can also only apply to either the Spring or Summer Vacation Scheme. 
To apply for our Vacation Scheme, you need the right to work in the UK and will need to check the conditions of your visa. If you require support to get a visa in the UK, we recommend applying directly for a training contract. If you are successful in securing a training contract, we will offer reasonable assistance with obtaining the necessary work permits and visas where required.

Entry requirements

We accept applications from those who have, or will expect to have, a minimum of AAB at A-Level and a 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent). However, we do understand that you may not have received the grade you hoped for due to extenuating or mitigating circumstances. Please detail any relevant information in your application for us to take into consideration. We also use a Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) to enable us to recruit people from different backgrounds and help us understand your achievements in the context in which they were gained.
Find out more

Message from our Training Principal

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I joined Bird & Bird as a trainee back in 2002. The evident care taken by the Early Careers team to ensure a positive experience for prospective trainees, and the warmth and enthusiasm of everyone I met in the process, played a big part in my decision to join the firm. As my career has progressed, that warmth and enthusiasm continue to be central to the firm’s culture and is one of the key reasons I have stayed for so long. It has also been very exciting and rewarding to work in a firm that has always had ambitious plans for its own growth and development, and I’ve really enjoyed working in an Employment team that has gone from a small group of lawyers in a handful of European countries to a truly international practice group with more than 140 lawyers across Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, and seeing our work - and client base - become increasingly international as we’ve grown. When I went through the recruitment process to join Bird & Bird, my first impression was of a firm that really invested in its trainees as the future of the business, and I’m delighted to now be able to contribute to that investment as the firm’s training principal

Alison Dixon Partner

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.