Develop your skills, learn from some of the best mentors you could ask for
Our training contract programme
During your two-year training contract, you will have four seat rotations, with six months spent in each seat. At least two of these seats will be completed in our core practice areas:
- Project Development & Finance
The remaining two seats will be allocated on trainee preference and business need, so you get to really consider which areas you might like to experience. We recommend that trainees try out a range of seats during their training contract, making the most of being in a full-service law firm. We have industry-recognised teams in advisory and contentious groups as well as our core transactional groups, so completing a variety of seats which complement each other well will lead to the best Training Contract experience and the best future lawyers!
The global nature of the firm and our international group structure also allows for one of the four rotations to be completed overseas, in office locations such as New York, Abu Dhabi, Singapore or Brussels. Trainees who go abroad benefit from a serviced apartment, relocation leave to get settled and acclimatised, a trained local supervisor and of course access to a thriving social network of other trainees in the region.
Learning and development
At Shearman & Sterling we appreciate the need for you to be fully equipped with the relevant legal skills to ensure you can perform your role effectively. Underpinning your ‘on the job’ training, is an intensive and comprehensive ongoing structured training programme, which will mean you may be attending training courses at least once a week. This training will be delivered by our own lawyers with support from external providers, such as The University of Law, visiting professors, technical experts, coaches and clients.
We’ve had a Training Contract in London for almost 20 years, so now have great insight into what skills and expertise our trainees require to reach their potential and qualify as proficient lawyers who are ready to tackle whatever our clients may throw at them! Our dedicated training team has a proactive approach to tailoring sessions to individual needs and market conditions; ensuring our staff are prepared for an evolving legal industry and the diversity our trainee roles entail.
Intensive induction, extensive benefits
During your first two weeks at the firm, you’ll take part in an intensive induction programme designed to equip you with all you need to be a success in your first seat. This will give you an overview of the practice areas you can work in, introduce you to the partners and associates and familiarise you with our IT systems. We also provide training on a range of essential skills such as public speaking and assertive communication.
You’ll also receive tailored inductions to each new practice group, where you’ll learn about the useful resources, terminology and typical tasks involved in each seat.
Training is delivered at an office-wide and practice group level. Trainees will be fully involved in practice group training, which includes workshops, formal lectures and discussion-based know-how meetings. Some practice groups will encourage trainees to deliver a short presentation to kick off a group discussion.
To ensure you’re aware of how you are developing, you will receive two reviews during the course of each seat: a mid-seat review and an end-of-seat review.
Your mid-seat review will take place after you’ve been in a practice group for three months. This ensures you understand how you are progressing and gives you the opportunity for your supervisor to formally highlight your strengths and areas of development, which you can act on in the final three months.
Your end-of-seat review will give a full summary of your performance over the past six months and will be conducted with a partner and your supervisor. This is a valuable part of your learning and development with us.
Feedback will also be provided to you in real-time throughout your seat, so nothing should come as a surprise. The firm is committed to the Training Contract and ensures that teams invest time and thought into giving clear guidance to our trainees throughout the two years and continuing into life as an associate.
Our support, your reassurance
On joining the firm you will select a mentor who will act as a support throughout your training contract. Mentors are typically Newly Qualified or junior associates, so have recently been through the trainee experience and can empathise with any questions or concerns. Each trainee is allocated a budget to meet with their mentor twice per seat and raise any concerns around seat choices, reviews, qualification, overseas seats, how work is going or anything else which may come up! Mentors are a great outlet and sounding board to ensure trainees feel informed, confident and in control of their Training Contracts.
At each seat you will work with an experienced supervisor, who will support your day-to-day development, as well as allocating work. They are typically a senior associate, counsel or partner, so are the best people in the business to learn from, with a wealth of experience when it comes to supervising trainees. Supervisors are England & Wales qualified and attend regular training sessions to ensure they are engaged with the firm’s processes, fair in their expectations of trainees as well as providing guidance and pastoral care.
The firm is committed to the long term development of our trainees and as such want all our trainees to qualify as associates with us at the end of the two year programme. The qualification process is straightforward, with trainees choosing one or two practice areas they’d like to qualify into and outlining their reasons why. There are no interviews or hoops to jump through as we will have got to know you in depth over the course of the Training Contract. The partnership will then meet (overseas partners too!) to discuss your review feedback throughout the period and to allocate trainees to their preferred practice groups, some of which may be located in our overseas offices.
As a profitable and growing firm, we’re confident that our groups can benefit from the high quality associates our Training Contract produces; as such we have consistently boasted strong retention rates. This is testament to the high calibre of our trainees, as well as a great success for the firm in retaining such impressive talent.
We recruit up to 2 years ahead. Candidates should apply in their penultimate year of a law degree (or beyond) or final year of a non-law degree. We also welcome applications from graduates.
We are currently recruiting for candidates who can start a training contract in August 2026.
We recruit all our training contract positions exclusively from our Vacation Schemes. If you are interested in applying for a training contract, you should apply for one of our Vacation Schemes.
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