Macfarlanes Trainee Recruitment

Training Programme, Vacation Scheme and First Year Insight Scheme

Firm profile

Macfarlanes is a distinctive London-based law firm, focused on its clients and on delivering excellence in the international legal market. The firm is known for the quality of its work; not just in dealing with the full range of corporate and commercial matters, but in advising clients on their private affairs as well.

Macfarlanes has made a deliberate choice to remain smaller than many of its peers. The cohesive nature of the firm means that clients benefit from collective experience and close-knit teams. The firm has decided against growth at the expense of quality, against size at the expense of efficiency and agility. So whilst large enough to advise on the most complex matters, the firm is also small enough to ensure that its people and work are exceptional, without fail.

Main areas of work

Our main practice areas are: commercial, competition, corporate and M&A, derivatives and trading, employment, finance, financial services regulation, investment management, litigation and dispute resolution, pensions, private client, private equity, real estate, restructuring and insolvency and tax.

Who we’re looking for?

At Macfarlanes, we don’t have any preconceptions about who you are or where you’re from.  We want people who are academically strong, with determination and drive.  However, we aren’t looking for any particular educational background.  For us, it’s your potential that really counts. 

We’ll want to see that you have resilience, determination and exceptional communication skills.  You must be confident when it comes to giving advice and making decisions.  Most of all, we are looking for people who will relish the chance to work alongside some of the world’s most successful and ambitious businesses and individuals.

We expect you to have a 2:1 degree or above – that could be in law or in another subject. 

The Training Programme​

We pride ourselves on providing a learning experience that is genuinely distinctive.  What defines that experience?  Above all, we have an enduring commitment to the development of trainees because they are intrinsic to what we do and the future of our firm.  It means your training contract at Macfarlanes will combine hands-on experience with a first class education programme.

During the two-year training programme you'll be working on real cases, doing real work for real clients from day one. As a trainee you will complete four six-month seats in different practice areas, including a compulsory corporate and M&A seat.    You will have the opportunity to submit your seat preferences and we will do our best to ensure you get to work in the seats that most interest you.  In each seat, you will share a room with a partner or senior solicitor who personally supervises and supports you in your work.


Once you begin your training programme you will follow an intensive schedule of seminars and lectures – these will mostly be presented by partners or senior solicitors from within the firm. The programme is ‘front-loaded’ to develop your knowledge and skills from the start. In some practice areas you may even be asked to contribute to a seminar or to update the team on recent developments in a particular area of law.

Feedback & Mentoring

Each of your seats will feature a mid-seat and end-of-seat review.  This is an opportunity to help gauge your progress.  You will be allocated a partner mentor who is personally responsible for you for the duration of your training programme.  These mechanisms are there to ensure that you get the best and most appropriate experience during your first years. What may surprise you at the outset is how quickly you will become part of the team and how quickly people at all levels in the firm will know your name and value your contribution.

Vacation Scheme

The vacation scheme at Macfarlanes is designed to give you an insight into life as a trainee over the course of two weeks.

As a vacation scheme student, you will be given as much hands-on experience as possible, enabling you to develop a real understanding of the firm's culture and work. You might draft a letter and then work through the draft with a solicitor or trainee; or research a live issue for a client. Alternatively, you may be taken to client meetings or to meet counsel.

The two weeks will be split across two different practice areas to maximise your exposure. You will find yourself working alongside a partner, solicitor or trainee. At the same time, you will undertake a mock transaction that will run for the duration of your placement.

Away from the work the scheme has a strong social component. As well as the organised events (socials with our trainees for example or lunch with our partners) there will be many opportunities to get to know people throughout the firm and to find out if Macfarlanes is right for you.

The dates of our 2021 vacation schemes are as follows:

Easter: 6 - 16 April 2021
Summer scheme 1: 28 June – 9 July 2021
Summer scheme 2: 12 – 23 July 2021

First Year Insight Scheme

The first year insight scheme is designed to provide you with an insight into City law and to give you the opportunity to meet trainees, solicitors and partners within the firm. The weeklong scheme includes:

  • A mock negotiation exercise
  • Speed networking
  • Lunch with trainees, solicitors and partners
  • An application skills workshop
  • Work-shadowing a trainee – you will get to see the real work that goes on here
  • A range of firm talks 

We will advise you on how to make good applications and, because the day is all about helping you decide if a career in law would be right for you, we recommend that you come armed with plenty of questions.

Our 2021 first year insight scheme will take place from 29 March 2021 – 1 April 2021.

When and how to apply

Our application form is online.  We review applications on a rolling basis so the sooner you apply, the sooner we can process your application.  The form itself is simple and is designed to give you every opportunity to impress us. 

The deadline for training programme applications beginning September 2023 or March 2024 is 31 July 2021. 

Applications for our 2021 vacation schemes close on 31 January 2021.

First Year Insight Scheme applications close on 28 February 2021.

For further information on our graduate vacancies visit our website at

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