When can I apply for a training contract?

Career icon
Applications open: 2 October 2023 Applications open for winter, spring and summer vacation schemes, our presentation evenings and insight days and our 2026 training contract.
Time icon
Training contract deadline: 21 June 2024 Winter vacation scheme deadline: 31 October 2023
Spring/Summer vacation scheme deadline: 12 January 2024

What we're looking for...

What all of our people have in common is an enthusiasm for the law and a drive to deliver top quality work for our clients. You’ll also need:

  • Academics: a 2:1 degree in any discipline.
  • Ability to work within a team: we have a collaborative culture so the ability to work well with colleagues and clients is essential.
  • Drive and resilience: becoming a solicitor is hard work. We want to see people who are proven self-starters and are able to overcome setbacks.
  • Analysis and judgement: our work can be complex and demanding. We need people with analytical minds who aren't afraid to share their own opinions.
  • Communication: we are looking for people who can convey complicated messages easily and efficiently.
  • Common sense: we are looking for people with an ability to apply their legal knowledge in a practical way that is useful for our clients. 

Our application process starts in October each year and can take several months to complete. This section provides an outline of what you can expect when applying for a vacation scheme or training contract. It's important to us that our organisation represents the diverse community in which we operate and we encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and identities. As a Disability Confident employer, we want to ensure that all applicants who identify as Disabled or who have a health condition or impairment are offered reasonable adjustments throughout the recruitment process. We will progress candidates who identify as Disabled to the Assessment Centre if they meet the minimum scoring criteria for the job. If you would like any further information, or would like to discuss reasonable adjustments, please get in touch with Penny Bowring.

Step 1: The application form

The first step in your application journey will be to submit an online application form. The application form will ask for your personal details, education and employment history and some additional questions which will give you the opportunity to tell us more about why you are interested in the firm and test what you know about us so far. 

Before starting the application form make sure you have any school/college or university transcripts to hand as we will be asking for a full history of all your secondary education and university module results. 

Although we are looking for candidates who have achieved/are expecting to achieve a minimum 2.1 degree we consider all applications. If you experienced mitigating circumstances at any point during your education we will take this into consideration. We operate a blind recruitment system meaning we can’t see your name, address, school or university name when we first look at your application. It is therefore very important you make note of your application reference number when you apply in case you need to contact us about your application!

We are proud to be using the Rare Contextual Recruitment System, a way of identifying high-achieving candidates that may have been missed. The tool measures candidate’s relative disadvantage as well as performance, making it easier for us to compare applications. As part of the application form you will be asked for your home postcode while at secondary school, details of your school, if you were eligible for free school meals, if you are a refugee or asylum seeker and whether you are the first generation of your family to go to university. You will find an overview of the Rare tool within our application form. 

TOP TIP: When completing the additional questions section we want to see that you understand what makes Burges Salmon different. Avoid copying and pasting content from other application forms, or writing an answer that could apply to any commercial law firm. Try to think about the features that make us stand out. Attending an event (online or in person) will really help enhance your understanding of the firm.

You can find further advice on application forms on the trainee blog.

Step 2: Psychometric tests

All candidates who submit an application will be asked to complete two psychometric tests online:

1. Situational Judgement Test (SJT)

The test is not timed. 

A situational judgement test measures your ability to demonstrate judgement and decision making regarding specific behaviours that are important for success in a role as a solicitor with us. When completing the SJT you will be presented with 20 different work-place scenarios with a choice of 4 different responses. You will be asked to select which of the responses you would be most likely to adopt and which you would be least likely to adopt. 

You can’t ‘revise’ for a SJT but there are things you can do to prepare:

  • Make sure you are familiar with our values, and what we are looking for in prospective trainees
  • Make sure you know yourself! Try to avoid trying to guess what the ‘right’ answer is to the scenarios, and focus on what you would do.
  • Try completing practice tests online. You can find a range of practice SJTs on websites such as Practice Aptitude Tests.
  • Once you receive the invitation to complete our SJT you will have the opportunity to try out an example question before the test starts.

2. Verbal Reasoning Test

This is a timed test. You will have 20 minutes to complete the verbal reasoning test. 

A verbal reasoning test assesses your ability to make deductions from text. Understanding language, verbal comprehension and logic are all vital skills for a lawyer which is why we are interested in how you perform in this area. During the test you will be presented with a series of paragraphs of text followed by various statements. You will be asked to determine whether the statements are true, false, or you cannot tell from reading the paragraph.

Like the SJT, you can’t revise for a verbal reasoning test, but you can prepare by completing practice tests online. Again you can find different examples on websites such as Practice Aptitude Tests.

TOP TIP: Make sure you allocate sufficient time and a suitable environment to complete the tests. Avoid having anyone else in the room with you at the time and make the most of online resources to familiarise yourself with this style of assessment. 

After completing our online application form and completing the psychometric tests, our resourcing team will review your application. We will take into consideration all aspects of your application before making a decision. This is the most competitive stage of the process – we receive over 1500 applications each year and can only invite around 150 students to an assessment centre. If you are not successful at this stage you can put in another application next year. Unfortunately, we cannot provide bespoke feedback on unsuccessful applications due to the volume of applications that we receive.

Step 3: Assessment centre

Those who are successful at this stage will be invited to attend an assessment centre. 

All of our assessment centres take place in person only at our Bristol office for Bristol training contracts. 

Assessment centre dates:

  • For our Winter vacation scheme: 13 & 17 November 2023
  • For our Spring & summer schemes: 5, 7, 9 12 &14 February 2024

Direct training contract process:

  • First Stage (Assessment Centre): 23 & 25 July 2024
  • Second Stage (Training Contract interviews): 5 - 9 August 2024

Our assessment centres normally run from around 9.30am in the morning to 5pm in the afternoon. Although we do assess your performance throughout the day, we intend for these days to be a two-way process as they will provide you with a great opportunity to find out more about us and to meet our people. 

Throughout the day you will take part in the following activities:

Group exercise

The group exercise is based around a fictional commercial scenario. To prepare, familiarise yourself with ‘what we are looking for’. Collaboration is one of our key values and we are looking for trainees who show an ability to work well with others. It’s also worth thinking about how to develop your commercial awareness – familiarise yourself with the business pages of the news and remember to keep a commercial focus throughout the exercise.

Written exercise

The written exercise is based on the same fictional scenario as the group exercise and will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the material and key issues in another format. 

Watson Glaser critical thinking test

Critical thinking skills are essential for a lawyer. The Watson Glaser test assesses how well you can absorb and analyse information – we find that is a good predictor of success in the role of a lawyer in which you frequently need to analyse, evaluate, draw inferences and draw conclusions. 

To prepare for the Watson Glaser test it is worthwhile trying a practice critical thinking test online to familiarise yourself with the format. 

Interview with a senior lawyer, director or partner

This will be a 45-minute interview with a lawyer. Many of the questions will be based around your application form and career motivations. Make sure you know your form well and remember, the interviewer has been exactly where you are now! Take the opportunity to find out more about them too. 


Be yourself – try to avoid guessing what we want to hear – we want the chance to see your personality and what makes you different. Make the most of the assessment centre and ask questions – remember all the lawyers you will meet have been exactly where you are now!

Find out how previous trainees have found the assessment centre in our blog.

Application FAQs

Everything you need to know about the trainee solicitor application process.
Application FAQs

Latest tweets