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Training contracts - Northern Ireland

Due to the exceptional calibre of our vacation placement students this year, all our training contract places for 2024 have been filled. We will be opening recruitment again for 2025 in September 2024.


The best training experience possible

On our tailored programme, we give you the best training experience possible, with a full, balanced introduction to the legal profession.



We make business work better for people

Retention rates

We are proud to retain 80% of our trainees

Comprehensive Training

We deliver core and complementary training



Your training starts on day one online, where you have the chance to meet your fellow Trainees and begin to build a network of contacts across the firm.

Our residential Trainee Conference in your second week is when your intensive legal and skills training really starts. With a series of regulatory and skills training combined with a good number of social events, it gives you the chance to develop professionally whilst strengthening your bonds with your fellow Trainees.

Training and seat rotation

Throughout your two years as a Trainee, you’ll build both technical and complementary skills and gain broad exposure to different areas of the firm, by moving seat every six months.

We’ll support you in meeting the regulatory training requirements of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, while working with you and the wider business on the allocation of seats. Our aim is for you to experience different areas so you have a number of options when you qualify.

During your Training Contract, our Graduate Development Team will meet with you regularly to offer personal or professional support and guidance.

The Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS)

Northern Ireland trainees must have been offered and accepted a place at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS), at The Queen’s University of Belfast, for the January after they join us.

Alternatively, the Belfast office is also registered to accept students who have completed the one-year Legal Practice Course/SQE and will accept applications for a training contract from candidates following this route.


SQE Route


Pinsent Masons will transition to the new SQE route to qualification for our September 2024 trainee intake. For trainees joining us in 2024 via this route, students will have studied for, taken and passed all of SQE 1 & 2 before starting.

The SRA requirement for those have already completed the LPC is that they need to pass SQE2 and undertake 2 years Qualifying Work Experience.

Throughout your Training Contract we’ll support you in meeting the regulatory training requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Northern Ireland trainees spend part of their training working in our offices and spend the remainder of their time studying at the IPLS. They are paid monthly throughout their two years of training whether in the office or at the IPLS. Trainees who have followed the LPC/SQE route work on a full-time basis, their salaries are slightly higher to reflect this. Salaries are reviewed annually.


Our trainee salaries are subject to review on an annual basis. The salary rates at August 2023 are as follows:

Northern Ireland
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If you don’t meet the above criteria but there are mitigating circumstances that explain why you’ve failed to meet the minimum academic requirements, there’s an opportunity for you to include this information in your application.


Law school sponsorship


A training contract represents a big investment in your future. In light of this, Pinsent Masons will pay IPLS fees for trainees provided you complete your training contract with the firm. Details of Firm sponsorship for the SWQ 1 & 2 will be available in due course.


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A focus on detail

With a conscientious approach, you’ll have the ability to read and absorb large amounts of reference material and spot errors quickly. You’ll be a stickler for detail when it comes to your own writing too, ensuring it’s always clear and accurate.

An interest in business

An interest in business

We’re a commercial law firm, so you’ll have a genuine interest in how business works. That means keeping up-to-date with the latest business issues, as well as appreciating how legal expertise can support and steer commercial organisations.

Intellectual capability

Intellectual capability

You’ve the intellectual curiosity to explore new approaches and ask others’ opinions. With an analytical approach, you think things through and weigh up the implications, but also have the capacity to think on your feet to find solutions.



You’ll be approachable, outgoing and confident engaging with people from different backgrounds and experiences to your own. Whether you’re communicating with colleagues or clients, you’ll understand the need to adapt your message to suit your audience.

Personal drive

Personal drive

You’ll need to combine a real desire to be the best with the energy, ambition and enthusiasm to go the extra mile to succeed. With a can-do attitude, you’re always open to learning from your experience, so you can be even better next time.

Personal  responsibility

Personal responsibility

You understand that taking responsibility for your successes and acknowledging when things go wrong will help you to constantly improve and achieve your career aims. By knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you give others confidence in your abilities.


Positive impact

With the self-assurance to voice your own opinions and defend your point of view when you need to, you’ll be a convincing and persuasive communicator. But you’ll also have the self-awareness to ask for help when you need it.



You understand priorities and monitor your progress towards set objectives. By being well-organised and planning and managing your work efficiently, you make sure you always deliver quality work on time.

Our recruitment process

We’ve designed our application process to ensure you’ll know the outcome in no more than four months after the application deadline. The below shows a typical recruitment and selection process. You’ll be given full details of the process in relation to your own recruitment as appropriate.

    Trainee retention

    Our investment in your training means we’ll do everything possible to continue your career with us after qualification. We carefully control the number of Trainees in the business to maximise retention.

    Resource planning ensures that you will be given the highest quality of work, which will stretch you further and allow you to quickly learn and develop. At the moment, we retain 80% of our Trainees.

    Newly-Qualified (NQ) selection process

    We run a fair and transparent NQ selection process. Our Graduate Development team work with the business to identify which roles are available and circulate a list. You’ll be able to apply for any relevant, available vacancies across the firm’s offices.

    The recruitment process is centrally managed and includes interviews and technical skills assessments. The outcomes will be based on your performance at assessment and throughout your training contract. This gives you every opportunity to further your career with a leading, well-respected firm in your chosen area of law.

    Continuous professional development

    After qualification, you can look forward to a variety of development opportunities that will enable you to become a specialist in your chosen area. With a wide range of courses available through the Pinsent Masons Academy, as well as in your practice area, you’ll have plenty of scope to develop your skills, add to your responsibilities and build a successful career.


    • How many training contracts do you offer each year?

      Usually, we offer around 68 Training Contracts each year across the UK, which includes 6 in Northern Ireland, although we review this regularly to make sure it reflects our business needs.

    • Do I get to choose my seats?

      You can let us know which seat you’d prefer for each move and we’ll do our best to meet your request, in line with Law Society of Northern Ireland guidelines and our business needs. In our Belfast office, we aim for you to have seats in Property, Corporate and a contentious seat. The other seat choices are Litigation & Regulatory, Employment & Reward, Finance & Restructuring, and Construction & Energy. 

    • Can I undertake seats in more than one location?

      Due to the way the Institute of Professional Legal Studies course runs, our Northern Ireland trainees must complete their seat in our Belfast office.  If you are following the LPC route, a move to another office may be possible.

    • Do you offer client secondments?

      Due to the way the Institute of Professional Legal Studies course runs, our Northern Ireland trainees must complete their seats in our Belfast office. We very much encourage secondments on qualification through our global secondment programme STRIDE.

    • What is your retention rate?

      We aim to retain as many Trainees as possible and at the moment our retention rate is over 80%. We can only offer the positions which have been identified as part of our NQ process. That’s why we encourage you to keep an open mind about the practice area and location you’d like to qualify in.

    • Do I need to take a Vacation Placement to be offered a Training Contract?

      Generally no as we understand that you could have other commitments that prevent you from taking up a placement, however this year we had an exceptional group of vacation placement students and we filled all our Training Contract places for 2024 from this group. We will be opening Training Contract applications for 2025 in September 2024.


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