What are you looking for?

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.

Summer placement scheme

If you are at least a second year undergraduate student, enrolled on the GDL or have completed your studies, you can apply for our summer placement scheme.

This one-week placement is an integral part of our recruitment process and is our preferred route to a training contract. This experience provides insight into the life of a trainee at Hugh James across a variety
of departments.

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.

This award winning scheme is very popular and fills up fast. At the end of your placement, you will be invited to interview for a training contract with us.

Summer placement scheme2023/Training contracts 2025

Applications are currently closed.

Period of recognised training

During your training contract, you will have a dedicated supervisor and regular appraisals to make sure you’re getting the most from your training. You will work alongside our current solicitors and will have the opportunity to work in up to four different seats across a variety of the firms practice areas.

We consider applications from all ages and backgrounds with a 2:1 degree as a minimum (unless there is good reason for a 2:2 degree being awarded).

Applications from non-law graduates are welcomed too if you are currently taking, or have completed, the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).

apply now

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.

If you require such sign off, please email [email protected]

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.

Luckily our trainees are here to provide an insight into life at Hugh James and their experiences of being a trainee solicitor.

Check out our #HJTraineeTalks series where our trainees have recorded short videos covering topics such as pressure to secure contracts, being open minded when it comes to choosing seats and what it’s been like working during the pandemic.

watch series

Anna McCarthy, a 2017 trainee, answers your FAQs

Hugh James has a reputation as one of the leading law firms in the UK. I applied to be a trainee here as I wanted the opportunity to learn from the very best lawyers who are highly regarded within their specialist sectors and to develop the skills needed to follow in their footsteps. I knew that I would have the opportunity to gain experience within different departments and work with a range of clients.

My expectations of the firm have been met and more. In my first year as a trainee, I have completed seats in the Commercial Property and Neurolaw departments. I have worked with clients ranging from large corporate bodies to individuals who have experienced life changing injuries. I have worked with and learnt from lawyers who are recognised as experts in their field and I have developed both personally and professionally as a result.

The training contract consists of six month seats in four different departments. One of the big advantages of training with Hugh James is due to its full service offering. There is a wide range of departments which offer seats.

As a first and second year trainee, you will be asked your preferences for where you would like to have your seats. The HR team will take account of these preferences as much as possible, particularly during the second year of your training contract as this is the time that you will be considering the department you’ll qualify in to.

Hugh James offers a lot of support during your training contract. During every seat you will be allocated a supervisor who will oversee your work and be on hand for any queries. In addition, it operates a buddy system whereby a second year trainee is allocated to a first year to answer more general queries about life as a trainee.

Your training contract will contain a number of external courses (Professional Skills Courses) as required by the SRA. There are a number of compulsory modules, but you will also have the opportunity to choose two elective courses based on your interests.

As a trainee, you will move to a different department every six months so it was important to me that the working environment is friendly and welcoming. The environment at Hugh James is both! In my experience every lawyer from paralegal to partner is very welcoming and are more than happy to assist and answer any queries you may have. The firm has an open door policy emphasised by the open plan office layout and everyone is very approachable.

One very important point about the working environment at Hugh James is its staff facilities. On every floor, there are tea and coffee stations and also a staff café which provides a great opportunity to have a catch up with colleagues.

Your social life will be busy! On the first day of your training contract, you are taken out for lunch by the second year trainees and have drinks in the evening with the partners. From then on, there are regular opportunities to socialise.

The average yearly intake is around 10 trainees which provides a great social side to the training contract. With so many trainees, there is guaranteed to be an occasion such as a birthday which needs celebrating or a general drink and catch up in one of the many bars in Cardiff. This is a great opportunity to socialise with other members of your department and get to know people on a personal level.

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.

Contact one of our experts

Fill in the form and one of our experts will get in touch with you shortly.