I am interested in intellectual property - will I be guaranteed an IP seat during my training contract?
Yes – all trainees will gain experience in IP, including a compulsory seat in Patent Litigation. You may also experience transactional, advisory and contentious IP in our Brands, CTC Disputes and/or Commercial IP seats. This sets our training contract apart as most firms cannot guarantee an IP seat, even those with a strong IP practice. Our client secondments for trainees are usually to companies that have brands or technology at their core.
I like the sound of Bristows but I don't have a science background - does this matter?
No - don't be put off if you don't have a science degree. We are looking to recruit trainees who have strong academic records from a variety of academic backgrounds. A science background can definitely help for certain types of work, but is not essential to secure a training contract at the firm. We have lawyers with all kinds of academic backgrounds in all departments of the firm, including our IP department. The key to success at Bristows is an appetite for learning and an interest in working for clients in our target sectors, as well as a desire to be a first class lawyer.
How does the selection process work - do you do psychometric testing or personality profiling?
Our selection process is straightforward and primarily interview based with an emphasis on the face to face assessment of individuals. All applications forms are reviewed personally by our trainee recruitment team. A selection of applicants are put forward for video interview and then these are reviewed by partners who will select candidates for interview. There is a first interview conducted by a partner and a senior associate followed by a tour of the firm with one of the current trainees. Candidates for second interview are selected by partners and a further interview is normally held with two partners who are members of our Trainee Committee. Candidates will also be asked to undertake a written exercise.
We don't do psychometric testing or personality profiling - it's not our style.
Will the selection process accommodate my disability?
Yes. We encourage anyone with a disability (visible or non-visible) to let the trainee recruitment team know so we can implement reasonable adjustments in your assessments. All information disclosed to the trainee recruitment team will be managed confidentially.
Similarly, we work with disabled employees while they are at the firm to ensure they have the necessary tools to perform their role.
I'm looking for vacation schemes or work experience at Bristows. How can I apply?
We run IP-focused workshops to get to know the firm, rather than vacation schemes. While the duration is shorter, we pack the day with learning opportunities, interactive sessions and lots of networking so you still finish the workshop with a true insight into Bristows. Check out 'What we offer' for more information.
What are the requirements to apply for a training contract?
Typically successful trainees have a consistent academic record and are working towards (or have gained) a 2:1 in their degree. We also welcome any mitigating circumstances or context be added to your application if you feel your academics do not reflect your ability.
Our applications are not automatically filtered in any way, so our trainee recruitment team will review all information and make a decision holistically.
How much responsibility do trainees get during their training contract?
Plenty - this is a particular feature of a training contract at Bristows. We recruit up to ten trainees in each trainee intake; this means that no trainee can get lost in a crowd - everyone has to make a real contribution. We want our trainees to be eager to take on responsibility, share their ideas and develop their skills.
Your website mentions client secondments. Do all trainees go on secondment?
Most trainees go on secondment for a three-month period during the course of the training contract. In the last couple of years, all trainees have done a client secondment, but we can't always guarantee this as it depends on how many clients need seconded trainees and on the structure of each individual's training contract.
Secondments are always to a UK client's in-house legal department, in or near London.
What is the retention rate like at the end of the two-year period?
Our retention rates are very good. Each trainee intake is small, and we invest a lot of time and energy in recruiting and training each individual so our aim is for them all to stay with us. It doesn't always work out, though, and on average there may be one person per year who doesn't stay at the end of the training contract.
We were very proud to have 100% and 90% retention rates in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
When looking at retention, another important question is: what are the retention rates like further down the line? At many firms, the culture grinds people down, and high staff turnover is a fact of life. At Bristows, we pride ourselves on high staff retention at all levels.
Would I get feedback on my performance during the training contract?
Yes. You will have regular appraisals at the end of each seat and a more informal mid-seat appraisal as well as day-to-day feedback on the work you do - this is the best way to learn quickly. You will also have regular meetings with your allocated training partner throughout the two-year training contract.
If I accepted a training contract at Bristows, does the firm keep in touch before I start work?
Yes, we'll keep in touch with you with drinks and social activities plus an email network, but we won't hound you - we encourage social communication amongst year groups before they join the firm.
What sort of training programme does Bristows run?
We run an in-house training programme which covers both legal and professional skills training and we are also part of a training network set up with other firms.
The most important part of your training contract is on-the-job training and you will get plenty of this, either sharing a room with a partner or a senior associate.
I am aware that a legal career can be quite high-pressure. How will my wellbeing be taken care of at Bristows?
As a trainee, the Trainee Committee, your supervisors and the Mental Health First Aiders are all well-placed to ensure your wellbeing is cared for. There are also plenty of opportunities for trainees to get involved with the firm’s wider Wellbeing Programme, which encompasses the four pillars of wellbeing – physical, financial, mental and community wellbeing. As well as the generous benefit offering and firmwide initiatives that trainees can be a part of, there are also trainee specific wellbeing activities such as a specific resilience and personal leadership programmes and the opportunity to volunteer at a local soup kitchen with your cohort.
Should I do the PGDL/LPC before applying for a training contract?
There is no need to start or complete the PGDL and/or LPC before applying to Bristows for a training contract. We typically recruit two years in advance, so there will be time before starting your training contract to complete all legal studies (funded by the firm). If you have time out from university before applying for a training contract, think about gaining some legal/office experience that will strengthen your application.
I have already started my PGDL/LPC. If I secured a training contract with Bristows, would the firm reimburse my fees?
Yes, we reimburse fees for the PGDL and LPC that you have already paid. We also backdate the maintenance grant to the beginning of the month in which you accepted your training contract.
I think I might want to take a year out. When is the best time to do this? Should I apply for a training contract and then defer?
If you want to take a year out, that's fine but we prefer our trainees to do so before starting Law School rather than between Law School and starting the training contract. If you think you want a year out, it is still worth applying to Law School to get a place and you can then defer the place at Law School. For a training contract, we prefer if you apply for the year when you want to start, rather than accepting a training contract and then asking to defer the start date.