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We're the perfect place for you to start your career in law

We are the perfect place for you to start your career in law, with training opportunities for graduates and those who are still studying. We look for highly motivated individuals with an excellent academic record, common sense, good communication skills and commercial awareness.

But it’s not all about education. We work in a friendly environment and like our staff to feel at ease with our culture so we value social skills and a good sense of humour.

Because of the commitment to offering some of the best training available, we recruit two years in advance. Our overriding objective is to retain our trainees as solicitors and we are proud to say that many of our present partners were trained at the firm and are now leaders in their field.

Training opportunities

Our training contract opportunities are for those of you who are looking to become solicitors.

Our trainees work alongside our current solicitors in up to four different seats, each lasting six months, across a variety of practice areas.

When selecting seats for our trainees we always consider individual preferences as well as business needs. Some training contracts will follow divisional lines and remain in either our business or individual services division for the duration of the training contract.

We also offer trainee secondment opportunities with some of our corporate and business clients.

If you wanted to know what it is like to work for Hugh James, our annual open day could be the insight you have been looking for.

a group of trainees from our summer placement scheme gathered in the vista lounge of Hugh James' 2 Central Square Cardiff office

Summer placement scheme & training contract

If you are at least a second-year undergraduate student or have completed your studies, you can apply for our Summer Placement Scheme. The scheme is an integral part of our recruitment process and is our preferred route to a training contract with us.

This experience provides insight into the life of a trainee at Hugh James. This award-winning scheme is very popular and spaces are limited. You will benefit from your own mentor, usually a current trainee solicitor, so you’ll have a go-to person for any of your queries. Where possible, we will immerse you in the day-to-day life of our teams which can involve attending court and client interviews.

During your time with us, you can usually expect to spend time in a few different departments to fully experience life as a Hugh James trainee solicitor.

At the end of your placement, you will be invited to interview for a training contract with us.

Solicitor’s Qualification Examination

The Solicitor’s Qualification Examination (SQE) offers an alternative to the traditional way of qualifying as a solicitor. We support this route to qualification as part our long-established solicitor training programme. Read about our approach to supporting lawyers at different stages of their career below.

Potential trainee solicitors

For our trainee solicitors we support both routes to qualification currently available. For those pursuing the SQE route, funding will be available for the SQE 2 training course and exam. Those undertaking a Hugh James training contract will complete a two-year contract, irrespective of any previous qualifying work experience.

The advantages of becoming a Hugh James trainee are:

  1. Two years of structured training across a breadth of disciplines.
  2. Guaranteed exposure to all the competencies needed, enabling candidates to be better equipped for the SQE stage 2.
  3. Payment of the SQE stage 2 exam and training course.
  4. A guaranteed solicitor role after the two years (subject to satisfactory performance and passing the SQE2 exam).

Future Paralegals

Our paralegal roles can be used as qualifying work experience, as the role allow individuals to develop some of the competencies needed to be a solicitor.

Previously employed paralegals who need to sign off their experience at Hugh James

For those previously employed by Hugh James in a paralegal role, this time can be used as qualifying work experience, as it would have allowed them to develop some of the competencies needed to be a solicitor, and we will sign off this experience.

Sign off for qualifying work experience should be requested via your MySRA account, the contact is our training principal, Matthew Evans, Partner. Matthew’s SRA number is 315481.

If you require such sign off, please get in touch with HR

email hrinfo

Trainee insight

There are many questions we are regularly asked about our graduate options but we think it’s best coming from the people who have experienced it first-hand. Solicitor, Nitin Mathias, a former trainee, answers your FAQs.

Early into my career, I have already gained a unique insight into the legal world by working alongside industry leading litigators and well renowned non-contentious lawyers.

As a leading law firm in the UK, you will benefit from working with Hugh James’ prestigious client base. After completing seats in our Commercial Property and Financial Mis-Selling departments, I have already worked with a number of clients ranging from large corporate bodies to individuals.

Since the start of my Training Contract, I can safely say I have developed both personally and professionally. This is testament to the supervision, feedback, training and opportunities I have received at Hugh James.

As a full-service law firm, you will get the opportunity to work in a number of highly ranked departments. Your Training Contract will be structured into six-month seats in four different departments.

To satisfy the requirements of qualification with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, you will do seats in contentious and non-contentious departments; which could range from corporate/commercial to high-value litigation.

You will get the opportunity to submit your preferences as to which seats you wish to do. The HR team are fantastic into taking account your preferences, particularly during the second year of your training contract, as this is the time that you will be considering the department you wish to qualify into.

Hugh James provides plenty of support and supervision during your period of training. Upon the start of a new seat, you will be allocated a supervisor who will oversee your work and help answer any questions. The firms training principal and HR team are also available to provide additional support if needed.

You will attend an interim appraisal halfway through your seat, and a final appraisal at the end of your seat. This is essentially a check in to see how you are getting on with your seat and provides you the opportunity to provide feedback.

Every first-year trainee gets allocated a second-year trainee who will act as your ‘buddy’. The buddy system allows first years to ask more general questions about the life of a Hugh James trainee, or how to complete your trainee diary. You will also attend the Professional Skills Course as required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Moving departments every six months can be quite a challenge for a trainee, as you have to integrate and adapt to a new team quickly (hardest part is learning everyone’s names!). Every seat I have undertaken so far has been seamless, which is a testament to the approachable, friendly atmosphere here at Hugh James.

The firm operates an open office plan, which means you could be sitting next to a trainee one day, and then a partner the next. Every staff member from my experience, has been more than happy to go out of their way to help you when needed. In particular, I have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of supervision and feedback I have had from Partners within the firm.

On your first day you will be taken out for lunch by the second-year trainees and have drinks with the Partners at the end of the day. The first day is a good reflection of the social life you will have at Hugh James!

Our intake has roughly 12 trainees, and we regularly get together celebrating milestones or having general catch-ups in one of a number of bars and restaurants in Cardiff.

Outside of your trainee intake, every department will organise a number of socials; not to mention the firm wide Christmas and Summer party! This is great opportunity to speak and liaise with colleagues in a non-professional context.

Professional placement year

We have been offering a professional placement year to law undergraduates from Cardiff University since 2016. The firm’s relationship with Cardiff University has been cultivated and developed over more than ten years. The placement initiative is designed to support student learning and enhance employability skills as part of a work placement programme for law students.

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