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Application specific questions:

I did not study in the UK; how do I complete the application form?

If you have studied or are currently studying outside of the UK, you will need to convert the scores in the application form. It will help us if you can provide as much information as possible in regards to your international qualification.

I do not have any legal work experience. Will this count against me in my application?

We welcome applications from non-law students and law students. As a company that values everyone’s individual strengths and skills, previous legal work experience is not essential.

I need a work permit. Will that be a problem?

If you require a work permit and are offered a training contract with CMS, we will endeavour to support your application for a work permit. Please note that offers of employment are conditional on obtaining and maintaining applicable work authorisations, and this may at times fall outside of our control.

Do I have to apply using the online system?

Yes, all applications are completed online. We do not accept CVs and cover letters that are emailed directly to us. If you require the application form in a different format, please email

I have some adjustments that I would need making as part of the process. Are you able to accommodate these?

Yes, we can accommodate all types of adjustments. We openly welcome applications from everyone, so please get in touch with us at and we will contact you to discuss how we can help make the process work for you.

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline for applications for the Solicitor Apprenticeship, First Steps and CMS Academy programme is 23.59pm on 6 January 2020. Please note that you must have submitted your application in full before the deadline and we will not consider any applications submitted after this time. 

Deadlines for programmes which are not currently open will be advertised in due course. 

Applications will be screened on a first-come, first-served basis therefore please apply early to avoid disappointment. 

What does the application process involve?

For the Solicitor Apprenticeship, First Steps and The CMS Academy, the application process will involve an online application, online test, video interview and assessment day. You can take a practice online test here.

When will I know the outcome of my application?

As we recruit on a rolling basis, we will attempt to process your application as soon as possible and move you through the stages. In certain instances, we will hold assessment days before the deadline.

Can I ask for feedback on my application?

If you are unsuccessful at the assessment day, we will arrange a telephone call to discuss your performance across the different exercises. However, due to the high volume of applications received, unfortunately we are unable to give feedback at application form stage or following the online test or video interview.

What are your minimum requirements?

We are generally looking for you to have – or be on track for – a 2:1 (or equivalent) in any subject and 128 UCAS points at A-Level (ABB or equivalent) or any equivalent qualifications. If you have extenuating circumstances, please note this on your application form and they will be taken into consideration. A member of the team reviews each and every application on an individual basis and any information stated will be treated confidentially. 

I do not meet your minimum requirements. Can I still apply?

Our typical selection criteria is to have obtained – or be on track for – a 2:1 (or equivalent) in any subject and 128 UCAS points at A-Level (ABB or equivalent) or any equivalent qualifications. If you have extenuating circumstances, please note this on your application form and they will be taken into consideration. At times, we may ask for further documentation to help clarify your extenuating circumstances.

What if I have a 2.1 degree, but I don't have A-Levels or Scottish Highers?

We do consider equivalent qualifications to A-Levels or Scottish Highers, please contact us at to discuss further.

Do you take applications from mature students?

Yes, we welcome applications from all students and graduates regardless of age.

How many non-law students do you recruit?

Typically, we recruit roughly half of those on our programmes from a law background and half from a non-law background.

Do you take mitigating circumstances into account?

Yes. If you have extenuating circumstances, please note this on your application form and they will be taken into consideration. A member of the team reviews each and every application on an individual basis and any information stated will be treated confidentially. 

What skills and attributes do you look for in an application form?

We are looking for well-rounded individuals who demonstrate the following skills:

  • Personal effectiveness
  • Professional communication
  • Drive for achievement
  • Leading self & others
  • Future facing lawyer
  • Relationship building & commercial awareness

What makes a good application?

Your application form presents you with the opportunity to create a strong first impression, so it is important that you put the time and effort in to making it right. Be clear and concise, and always check your spelling and grammar, because we are looking for evidence of real attention to detail. Take time to understand each question fully before you write your answer. Your response should be tailored and highlight why CMS is the right firm for you.

Here are some tips from current trainees:

  • Write your applications well in advance and submit early.
  • Your application to the CMS Academy programme is just as important as your training contract application.
  • Commercial awareness is vital for your application. It's not enough to just read the Financial Times or The Economist: you need to formulate an opinion too.
  • Ensure your spelling and grammar is exemplary and always adhere to word counts.
  • Know what assessment days and interviews involve, so you can plan ahead.
  • Talk to current trainees and lawyers you meet during on-campus events to get a feel for life at the firm.

I applied last year; can I reapply this year as well?

Yes, we understand that people's circumstances may change, so please feel free to reapply.

Assessment day specific questions:

Do you cover travel costs to an assessment day?

We will reimburse your reasonable travel expenses incurred as a result of attending the day. We would not expect these to exceed £150 for domestic travel and £200 for international travel. If you believe your expenses will exceed these sums please contact us prior to booking your tickets. We request that you book in advance and that you travel by standard class in order to get the best value tickets. Please contact a member of the team if you have any queries regarding the assistance that we can provide to enable you to attend an assessment day with us.

I cannot make it to your assessment day. Are you flexible on dates?

We will always try to offer as much flexibility as possible, however, for some regional offices, we may only have one or two dates available. If you are unable to make the date you are offered, please email and we will do our best to accommodate you.

How am I assessed during the First Steps programme and the CMS Academy?

When you are on either the First Steps programme or the CMS Academy, you will be assessed against the same competencies that we assess our trainee lawyers and we will apply the same rating scale. These competencies are:

  • Personal effectiveness
  • Professional communication
  • Drive for achievement
  • Leading self & others
  • Future facing lawyer
  • Relationship building & commercial awareness

How should I prepare for an interview with CMS?

Your interviews show us how well you combine knowledge, intelligence and the ability to communicate. Preparation is key, so make sure that you have researched CMS in advance, read up on our industry and also be ready to convey what differentiates us rather than just repeating facts.

Remember to take your time. Speak clearly and concisely, be enthusiastic, and try to make good eye contact. If you do not understand a question, ask the interviewer to clarify.

This is what our current trainees have to say:

  • Keep up to date with business news. The BBC and The Times business pages are helpful to get a foundation, and then The Financial Times and The Economist will help you build on this.
  • Focus on a couple of events or stories that you find interesting and follow their progression in the run up to the interview.
  • Read books to give you an insight into the corporate world. Books such as The Money Machine: How The City Works by Philip Coggan and All You Need To Know About The City by Christopher Stoakes give an in-depth synopsis of this.
  • Have an excellent current knowledge of CMS. Law-Now, The Lawyer, The Lawyer2B, RegZone, and the CMS News pages are great sources of information about the firm's clients, recent deals and the type of work they carry out.
  • Practice answering questions on paper and aloud. It's a great idea to draw up a list of potential questions and answering them, so that you can articulate your thoughts more clearly.
  • Ask someone to run a mock interview with you, and you'll feel much calmer and better prepared when it comes to the real thing.
  • Arrive early. The last thing you want is to be worrying about transport in the minutes before your assessment.
  • Dress for the occasion - you want to make the best first impression at your interview.
  • Build a rapport with the person or people interviewing you. If there's two-way dialogue, you'll feel less nervous and it'll take the pressure off. A smile works wonders!

What should I expect from a group exercise or written exercise at the assessment day?

Throughout the day, we will be looking at how you perform under pressure, and the written parts reveal whether you possess good communication skills and strong attention to detail. This is also a great chance to showcase your commercial awareness and interests to us. Finally, effective time management is crucial to ensure you answer all the questions.


LPC, GDL, DPLP specific questions:

Do you mind where I study the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)?

Our preference is for you to study the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at the University of Law in any location where it is offered.

Do I get to choose my LPC electives?

At this stage, the LPC electives that we prescribe are: Mergers and Acquisitions; Law and Practice, Banking and Debt Finance; Law and Practice, and Public Companies; Law and Practice. We reserve the right to change these electives at any time.

Do you provide financial assistance though law school?

If we offer you a training contract in England and Wales, we will sponsor you while you complete the LPC, as well as the GDL if required. We will pay your tuition fees and give you a maintenance grant of up to £7,500 a year if studying in London, and £5,000 if your studies take place outside of London. If you are joining us in Scotland, we will cover full fees for the DPLP and pay you a maintenance grant of £5,000 while you study. Unfortunately, we are unable to sponsor your studies if you have already completed these courses prior to receiving our offer of a training contract.

What about the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme?

If you are from a commonwealth country or a jurisdiction that the Law Society recognises for this purpose, you can convert to English, Welsh and Scottish law by completing the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS). Further information can be found here:

If I have already studied the LPC, can I still apply?

We welcome applications from candidates who have already completed the LPC. Currently, the main route to the training contract is through the CMS Academy programme, so you will need to apply to and gain a place on this programme to be offered training contract.

If I am part way through the GDL, LPC or Diploma in Legal Practice, will I be reimbursed?

If you are currently studying the GDL, LPC or DPLP at the time of being offered a CMS training contract, law school fees will be reimbursed, however the maintenance grant will not be backdated.

Solicitor Apprenticeship specific questions:

Where will I be based for the duration of the Solicitor Apprenticeship programme?

You’ll be located in the office you applied to for at least four years. At the start of year 5, you’ll join our existing trainee seat rotation. This will give you the opportunity to undertake a secondment in another office, either in the UK or overseas, or spend time working in-house at one of our client locations.

What will happen at the end of the six-year programme?

Following successful completion of the Solicitor Qualification Examinations (SQE 1 & 2), you’ll be entitled to apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to practise as a solicitor. We’ll discuss openings with you for newly qualified solicitor positions towards the end of your six-year programme. 

How will I be assessed during my apprenticeship?

There will be a number of assessments throughout the apprenticeship and these will take various forms, from coursework to invigilated examinations. You’ll complete University of Law assessments for your LLB in Legal Practice and Skills (Hons). The SQE Part 1 will be a multiple-choice examination and Part 2 will be a skills-based test involving live scenarios. You’ll be assigned a skills coach by the University of Law who, together with your supervisor at CMS, will help you build up your portfolio of evidence incorporating the experience you have gained and the tasks you have completed at work. This evidence will help you satisfy the requirements of the SRA and our Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme.

Will there be any bespoke parts of the Solicitor Apprenticeship course?

We are currently working closely with the University of Law to design a programme that satisfies the standards of the profession while incorporating some bespoke aspects appropriate for CMS. We will mirror our apprenticeship programme with the one currently operating for our trainee solicitors – so everyone, regardless of entry point into CMS, receives the best training and development.

What is the split between working and studying for the Solicitor Apprentice?

As a solicitor apprentice, you will have one day per week allocated to study, leaving 80% of your time to gain on-the-job experience.

What qualification will I receive at the end of the apprenticeship?

Solicitor apprentices will receive a degree level apprenticeship (Level 7) and the opportunity to be awarded an LLB in Legal Practice and Skills (Hons) from the University of Law. Following successful completion of the SQE Parts 1 & 2, you’ll be entitled to apply to the SRA to be admitted as a qualified solicitor in England and Wales.

Do you provide apprentices with housing assistance?

Solicitor apprentices are in an enviable position – both a CMS employee and a student at the same time. You’ll be a student at the University of Law and eligible to apply for student accommodation.  Please email if this is of interest to you.

Who is eligible to apply for the CMS Solicitor Apprenticeship?

We accept applications from school and college leavers (Year 13s and beyond), including non-law graduates without legal work experience. We’re also open to applications from career changers. Unfortunately if you have already obtained a law degree qualification, you will not be eligible to apply as the first four years of the programme will include completion of an LLB in Legal Practice and Skills.

What does the application process involve for the Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme?

Our process is in line with our First Steps and CMS Academy selection process and involves exactly the same steps: online application form; online test; video interview; and an assessment day.  We take a holistic view of all candidates and no one part of the process is more important than another.

What is a Level 7 apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a government approved standard. A Level 7 standard is a degree apprenticeship that is most appropriate for school leavers (Year 13's or beyond), non-law graduates or career changers. 

CMS Academy, First Steps and Work Experience questions:

Who can apply for CMS Academy?

We welcome applications from: 

  •  Law students in their penultimate or final year in England and Wales 
  •  Non-law students in their final year in England and Wales 
  •  Law student in their penultimate year in Scotland 
  •  Final year student studying outside of the UK
  •  Graduates who have completed their studies

Who can apply for First Steps?

We welcome applications from:

  •  First year law students in England and Wales 
  •  Second year non-law students in England and Wales (third year, if studying a four-year course)
  •  Second year law students in Scotland 
  •  Penultimate year students from outside the UK 

Can I apply for the CMS Academy in my second year (of a four-year degree), if I am going abroad in my third year?

You will need to complete the CMS Academy in your third or final year of a four-year degree. 

Do you offer vacation placements in your international offices?

This year we have introduced the CMS Academy in Dubai; a unique opportunity to seek a Training Contract in Dubai where you'll spend a minimum of three seats in the UAE with one being in either London, another CMS office or client secondment. 

When is your Open Day and how do I apply?

Details of all of our open days nationwide will be on the events page of this website, as soon as dates have been confirmed. You'll be able to apply via our website by completing a short application form.

How do I find out about CMS events at my university?

All of our events are advertised on this website (see "Events" tab) and via university career services. Unfortunately, we cannot attend every university in the UK, so please do search for any events we may be holding which are close to your university. We also promote all of our events via our social media channels and links to these can be found at the bottom of this webpage.

Can I apply for both the CMS Academy and a training contract?

Currently, the main route to securing a training contract is the CMS Academy and we do not open training contract vacancies. You would need to successfully complete the CMS Academy in order to be offered a training contract.

How do I get the most out of the CMS Academy?

Here is some advice from our current trainees:

  • Carry a notebook and make notes whenever you get instructions from an associate or partner. That way, you won't forget anything important.
  • Work for as many different members of the team you’re assigned to as possible. Different working styles can teach you a lot.
  • Ask questions to make sure you fully understand any task being asked of you. Don’t forget to check the deadline, so you meet the person’s expectations.
  • Don’t be afraid to have an opinion. If it’s wrong, you’ll learn something, and if it’s right, you’ll feel like a champion.
  • Keep feedback emails from clients and colleagues. They will help you keep doing what you’re doing right and identify areas that you could improve on.

How do I prepare for the First Steps programme?

The programme is designed to provide you with the best possible introduction to working in law, giving you a taste of what your future career could be like. All you have to do is make the most of the opportunity while you are with us. Be attentive and take in everything you can, and make sure you get involved in every activity and every area of the business open to you. Speak up about your opinions, but make sure you listen to the opinions of those around you, so that you can learn as much as possible.

How can I apply for paralegal work?

All of our paralegal opportunities are advertised in the job opportunities section on our main website:

What if I complete the First Steps programme or the CMS Academy in one office and then decide that I would prefer to be located in a different office?

When completing your application, we ask you to confirm that you understand that by undertaking a programme in one office, you are agreeing to undertake further programmes or a training contract in that same office. This is our policy, however we will review any requests received on a case-by-case basis. 

How do I apply for a Brand Ambassador position?

We have now recruited all Brand Ambassadors for our 19/20 campaign. Details of our 20/21 Brand Ambassador programme will be made available in Spring 2020.

Do you offer work experience for students who are still at school?

We offer our PRIME work experience programme – further details can be found on the PRIME page here.

Training Contract specific questions:

How do I apply directly for a Training Contract with CMS?

The CMS Academy is the main route to a Training Contract at CMS. We do not accept applications directly for a Training Contract. 

What does a Training Contract involve?

Upon joining CMS, our trainees complete a comprehensive induction programme. During the training contract, our trainees undertake four six-month seats or secondments nationally, internationally or client based. You'll have the opportunity to work across different practice groups covering at least three distinct areas of law. 

What sort of future career could I have at CMS?

There is no limit to what you can achieve at CMS. Many of our partners were trainees not long ago. If you have the ambition and talent to succeed with us, then you will do just that. It's your future, create it here. 

What choices will I have when I qualify?

We ask all trainees who are approaching qualification to apply for roles from a published vacancy list. 

What happens if I am offered a training contract and wish to defer?

The ability to defer will be based on the requirements of our business at that time. Some years, it may be possible to accommodate individual requests; other years, it may not be possible unless there are extenuating circumstances. Each request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

Ready to apply?