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Application Process

To be considered for one of our training contract places, you must participate in our Spring or Summer vacation scheme. We have up to ten places on each scheme. The schemes are designed to give you an insight into the work we do and to experience the unique culture of our firm. You’ll also get a chance to meet our current trainees along with our associates and partners and find out what makes Ropes & Gray a great place to start your legal career.

Applying for a Vacation Scheme

The application form is your first opportunity to stand out, to demonstrate your interest for commercial law, and to tell us why Ropes & Gray is the right firm for you. You should make the most of your experiences, highlighting what you have gained from them and how this might apply to the skills required for a career at Ropes & Gray.

 We’re looking for bright, commercially aware candidates who have high levels of self-awareness and are open to doing things differently and you’ll need to demonstrate these behaviour in your application form – click the image to find out more about what we’re looking for.


We expect that candidates will have achieved (or expect to achieve) a strong 2.1 in their undergraduate degree and we accept applications from candidates from all degree subjects and those changing careers. All applications are reviewed by our Trainee Recruitment panel.

Contextual Recruitment System

We want our opportunities to be accessible to as wide a group as possible and understand that not every applicant’s achievements look the same on paper. We have therefore integrated a contextual recruitment system (CRS) into our recruitment process. This tool allows us to further understand the context in which applicants’ experiences have been gained and helps us to recruit the very best people from a range of diverse backgrounds. As an example, we might consider a candidate's home postcode, school attended, whether they were eligible for free school meals, if they are the first generation in their immediate household to go to university, and whether they were ever in care or once a refugee or asylum seeker. 

Assessment centre

If you are successful at the application stage you will be invited to an assessment centre. We have designed our assessment centre so we can test whether you demonstrate the attributes we are looking for in a variety of different situations and contexts. We operate a ‘blind’ recruitment process on the day so anyone you meet will not have any prior knowledge of your application or academic background. We feel this provides all candidates with a level playing field and keeps the focus on your performance on the day. Our key aim is to ensure that we recruit the very best talent into the firm regardless of background.

Before you attend the assessment centre, you will be asked to complete a Watson Glaser test, then during the day you will complete written, negotiation and presentation exercises as well as an interview with two members of the trainee recruitment panel. 

It is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the firm and our culture so you can determine whether our firm is the right place for you. During the day there will be a presentation from two of our partners, our current trainees will give you a tour of the office and you will have lunch with associates and partners.

All our partners and associates are trained to create an environment where you feel comfortable so as to give you every possibility to succeed in each assessment. Candidates should note that no specialist knowledge, including legal knowledge, is required to complete these exercises.

Vacation Scheme

Our scheme is a really valuable opportunity for you to experience first-hand what it is like to be a trainee at the firm, and to understand the firm’s culture and expertise. You will also learn about how law firms work as a business, and how we differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

During the two-week scheme you will complete practice group and client work at trainee level. Before you join the scheme we’ll ask you for your practice group preferences and we’ll take these into account when allocating your supervisor. You will also be mentored and supported by your trainee ‘buddy’ and will be invited to an evening event with all of our trainee cohort. You can also expect to meet lawyers from each practice group, attend workshops, and you will have the opportunity to interact with our employees at social networking events.

Throughout the two weeks you will also be assessed for a training contact at the firm, and all students will be asked to research and write a short blog post, and work together in small groups (with support from our client development team) to research and present a mock pitch presentation using live client examples.

Former Vacation Scheme Students

  • “The associates I worked with during the scheme were really generous with their time, and they explained how the tasks I completed fitted into the wider transaction. I felt integrated into my practice group and it was an invaluable insight into how corporate transactions work and the role trainees play in the life-cycle of a deal. I found it such an exciting and rewarding experience!”
  • “I really enjoyed building professional relationships with my trainee buddy and supervisor, who were thoughtfully picked for me bearing in mind my preferences and experience. The scheme was packed with meaningful activities and assessments - every session was thoughtfully aimed at equipping us either with knowledge about the firm or with the skills necessary for our training contract assessments.”

Our Route to Ropes & Gray

Find out more about our Trainee’s backgrounds and why they decided to begin their careers at Ropes & Gray:

Michael Harris – 4th Seat – Data Practice

Michael Harris

I have an unusual background as after graduating from university I took three years out to play poker online full time and save enough money to fund the LPC. I was always intending to become a lawyer and after a vacation scheme at Ropes I was offered a training contract which I accepted immediately.

I was initially invited to a networking event at the office, which was an excellent opportunity to learn about the firm and their culture (and also helped tailor my vacation scheme application!). Following a fun and informative vacation scheme I was made an offer. I accepted my offer because the people I met on the vacation scheme and throughout the application process were smart, hard working and approachable and exactly the kind of people I wanted to work with.

William Moore – 4th Seat – Litigation and Enforcement

William Moore

I was working as a parliamentary assistant in the House of Commons which, while interesting, didn’t provide me with the intellectual challenge and career progression I was looking for. I have friends who are lawyers and talking to them really helped me decide on pursuing a career in law.

The HR team were really fantastic throughout the application process. I initially undertook work experience with the firm before embarking on the summer vacation scheme. When I received the offer I really felt that Ropes & Gray was the right place for me, particularly as I had been given the chance to experience the firm’s work first hand and meet future colleagues.

George Croft – 4th Seat – Tax

George Croft

I studied French and Spanish at university and wanted to improve my language skills further by training as a teacher. I taught for two years, which was a very rewarding and formative challenge, but I was drawn towards the lifestyle and analytical skills of corporate law. After doing work experience with local solicitors I enrolled on the GDL course.

Insider Advice

Listen to our video by Katy from our trainee recruitment team who will provide you with some hints and tips to help you with the application process.

Selection Process

Get some top tips on your application from our current trainees:

Moose Sarfraz – 3rd Seat – Secondment to Hong Kong office


When applying for training contracts, it is all too easy to use a ‘copy/paste’ approach, however this can lead to mixed results. While you may have some good, stock phrases you put in every application regarding your education, interests and background, be sure to tailor and steer these to the firm you are applying to based on your background research into that firm’s practice groups, culture, clients, etc. Not only will this show your interest in the firm but it will also make your application stand out.

Ashleigh Morton – 3rd seat – Private Equity


Make sure your application tells a story – when recruitment get to the end of your application they should know what has brought you here and why, what skills and experience you have and how this will make a contribution to the firm.

Louisa Northover – 2nd seat – Antitrust


How you write your application is just as important as what you say in it. Make sure your application is well-written and precise. Aim to demonstrate how your experiences make you well-placed to become a Ropes & Gray trainee. To that end, it will put you in good stead to include examples of times when you’ve had to take high levels of responsibility in your work (whether in employment or in education) given that Ropes trainees are expected to learn by taking the initiative.

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