About your career

As the future of the firm, associates soon find themselves handling important client work. That is a measure of the confidence we have in you from an early stage.

Bespoke

/bɪˈspoʊk/ development
The kind of training you can expect from us

We pride ourselves on providing a learning experience that is genuinely distinctive. What defines that experience? Above all, it is an enduring commitment to the development of trainees, which is woven into every aspect of life at the firm.

It starts with selecting ambitious individuals
We look for a combination of character, drive and intellectual curiosity – these are the qualities that enable you to deliver more for our clients and fulfil your potential when it comes to your career.

Dealing directly with clients

We work with some of the world’s most high-profile organisations and business leaders. Through close partner support, you learn to deal directly with clients and to work on complex transactions.

Providing a breadth of learning

We handle a broad range of matters, from corporate, real estate and litigation to private client. In addition, our work has a substantial international dimension. This means wider exposure for you and greater insight into the issues facing our clients.

Giving the support you need to thrive

We give you all the support you would expect from a leading law firm, along with the benefit of regular reviews and close mentoring from partners.

Route to becoming a trainee

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)

The firm has partnered with BPP to design a bespoke programme that goes beyond helping you pass SQE assessments.

This 32-week course includes everything you need to ensure you are fully prepared to work in commercial practice. You complete modules that are bespoke to Macfarlanes. The programme combines classroom and digital learning to embed knowledge and uses business simulation exercises to help you apply your knowledge in realistic practice scenarios.

All elements, including the bespoke Macfarlanes modules, are paid for by the firm. We also continue to provide additional financial assistance in the form of a £13,000 grant during this time.

During your SQE preparation course you also attend regular seminars from the firm, where you hear from associates in our practice areas. These sessions help build your legal knowledge and inform your seat choices. You are also invited to social events at the firm so you can start building your network before you join us.

SQE timeline (for training programmes due to start in 2025)

  • Spring/Summer 2023 – receive your training programme offer from Macfarlanes.
  • Summer/Autumn 2024 – begin studying for the SQE with BPP.
  • Autumn 2024 – sit the SQE 1 examination.
  • Spring 2025 – sit the SQE 2 examination.

You start your two year qualifying work experience in September 2025 after you have sat SQE 2.

If you studied a non-law subject at undergraduate level, you have to complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) at BPP. This will be in the year between receiving your training programme offer and starting your studies for the SQE. For those candidates completing the PGDL, you need to achieve a commendation or above on the first sitting. As with the SQE preparation course, the firm covers your fees, and you receive a £13,000 grant.

For more information about our training programme or the financial assistance available, please contact our early legal careers team. 

Induction

Induction marks the start of your training programme. During this week you receive training from people across the firm to equip you with everything you need to know before starting your first seat. You also take part in our trainee charity day. 

Seat rotation

During your training programme, you spend four six-month periods, known as seats, in four areas. These seats combine hands-on work with formal lectures and seminars, mostly by partners and senior associates. Many trained at the firm so know exactly what you need to learn.

You have the opportunity to submit your seat preferences every six months, and we do our best to ensure you get to work in the seats that most interest you. In each seat a partner or senior associate supports and supervises you.

During my vacation scheme, I sat with a trainee supervisor who provided invaluable advice on life as a trainee at Macfarlanes, the business development opportunities and pro bono activities available to trainees at the firm.
Dale Phillips Associate who completed our vacation scheme in 2017.

Feedback and mentoring

To help gauge your progress, you have mid-seat and end of seat reviews.

We allocate a principal partner to you throughout your training programme. We also divide trainees into small “constituency” groups. This gives you direct, regular access to your own Trainee Solicitor Committee partner, who can discuss any issues you may have.

You have two reviews per seat. The mid-seat review takes place around three months into each seat, and you meet with both your principal partner and Trainee Solicitor Committee partner to discuss how your seat is going so far and your development points. The end of seat review takes place in the final few weeks of your seat. All these steps are in place to ensure you feel supported throughout your training programme.

You may be surprised how quickly you feel part of the team, and how soon people at all levels know your name and value your contribution.

The Lex 100

Winner

Following a survey of 3,000 trainee solicitors from 165 top UK firms, Macfarlanes was ranked as a winner in the "Confident of being kept on" category.

UK 300

Macfarlanes has been voted as one of the 300 most popular graduate employers in the UK by almost 75,000 current undergraduates and will be appearing in the 2021/22 UK 300.