herbert Smith - Training Contract



I was wondering if anoyone has had a training contract offer? Attended the interview process? Or applied and was rejected from Herbert Smith??

If so, please let me know what it entails!



I applied and interviewed for a TC beginning in 2010 and has the AC last year.

I was interviewed by two partners, one from projects and one form corporate - one male and one female. The interview was a text book “good-cop bad-cop” routine, with one agreeing a lot of the times and the other challenging my arguments.

Before the interview I had an hour to look through and prepare a scenario with questions. It was not a written test but they said that I would be quizzed on it in the interview. It was about a company that was struggling in the UK and had various options open to it to expand into Europe. The first question was about identifying the options that were open to the company and listing the pros and cons of each option, There were M&A options a potential litigation case, going into partnership with a supplier etc. There was a large appendix with some email correspondence, balance sheets for the target company, details about emerging market etc that helped support your arguments for the pros and cons of the options. The second part of the exercise was focusing on a particular document in the appendix talking about the current contract of the company with the supplier.

Then there was the actual interview. The partner had done a politics degree and wanted to have a discussion about international relations (one of the papers that I had done at university) it was my weakest paper at university and I couldn’t remember a great deal.

This threw me quiet a lot and I had try and stay calm. It was pretty weak start and I was aware that my arguments were not very interesting or thought through. Instead i focused on being concise and eloquent.

They asked me why I chose the A levels I did, the degree the gap year and this lead to why law. They did not ask me why Herbert smith at all. All the time the male partner was challenging what I said and questioning any vague points that I made. There were some questions about what I thought Herbert Smith should do in light of a new statue, I was lucky in that I had read the statue, Company law act 2006- and could be pretty detailed.

This lead onto recent commercial issues (they did not ask me about the one that I had put on my application). My interview was just after Northern rock/ sub-prime fiasco, and so I had a fair bit prepared for this, we had a few arguments but nothing that couldn’t have been predicted of the details what had been happening.

We then spent 10 minutes at the end on the scenario that had been prepared an hour before. I was allowed to have my notes in front of me for guide and reference to the figures etc, they only looked at the second part of the questions, concerning clauses in the contract. I had not quite understood some of the wording.

I got the impression that this was to be expected, because they explained what some of it meant then ask me to talk about the implications- trying to get me thinking on the spot, they were happy for me to take some time to think it through, it felt like I was thinking for ages, but in the end I could see what hay were trying to get at.

At the end just before I had asked my questions, they had asked me to give my two best and two worst points- which threw me back a bit as I had only one prepared of each!

I had been warned that Herbert Smith interviews are very much focused on trying to asses your commercial awareness – what a city law firm does and how it fits into the city, how it is affected by events etc. My experience was no different; in this case they were interested in my motivations peer se, but interested in how I could justify what I was saying and defend it. Legal awareness was not tested much.

Overall - both the interviewers were very friendly – seemed like nice people, the “bad cop” got pretty aggressive in his style of arguing, but not in a condescending or intimidating manner. The HR person who showed me around was chatty and made an effort to make me feel relaxed. The trainee who showed me around was a little odd, but the building was impressive.

Straight after the interview I was feeling positive- The Northern Rock chat went well and I had come up with some answers for the prepared scenario bit. However as I thought about it more, I remembered the chat about my degree at the beginning, and about how long I had been pausing and thinking, and within an hour I was sure that it went terribly wrong . Bottom line- you can speculate all day and never is sure.

I had heard 4 stories of people that were made an offer- each was phoned by HR within two hours. By the end of the day I had still not heard and gave up. Then a week and half later I received an email to confirm my address so that they could send out an offer letter- I had been successful… but I didn’t take the offer!


thanks a lot for the info very much appreciated!


Was wondering whether anyone knew if Herbert Smith made you do a psychometric test at their offices before the intervie?


Don’t know - it’s likely. You could call up HR and find out - please let us know if you do!


Apparently psychometric tests are not part of the interview.
Does anyone have info on the case study for a vac scheme? Is it the same for the training contract? If any one knows I would be really grateful if you could let me know asap



The case study you do to get a vac scheme and to get a training contract are the same. I had to do one to get a place on the vac scheme, but didn’t have to do a second one when I was interviewed for a training contract.

My memory of the case study is a bit hazy, but for what it’s worth, I remember that it involved one company buying another. There was information to read about the firms and an appendix with a memorandum of understanding between the two of them. I had to be prepared to talk about what the legal and commercial issues would be arising out of the deal. I had way more than enough time to prepare.

I was interviewed by a couple of partners. They really probed my motivations for a career in law. One kept making provocative remarks about my CV, to see how I would defend myself (‘you seem to be very much an individualist – many of your pastimes don’t involve other people’ – not true!). We then stumbled through a series of commercial and political topics. I was asked whether I thought that giving aid to Africa was counterproductive, and what I thought of the House of Lords’ reform.

We only spent about 10 minutes talking about the case study, right at the end of the interview. The partners showed no interest in the list of commercial and legal issues that I had identified. I was taken straight to one clause of the memorandum, and asked to spot an ambiguity that an aggressive litigator might exploit. After an attempt or two, I managed just about to hit the right answer.

During the vac scheme I filled out a short form to apply for a training contract; nothing as time consuming as the online application. I was then given the choice to have my training contract interview either on one of the last two days of the scheme, or after it. I asked whether I could have it the week after, and that was fine.

The partners who interviewed me had been given copies of the two research pieces I did during the vacation scheme (one in each seat). Luckily I had anticipated talking about them, as I was asked to summarise the more complex of the two. There were also a couple of follow-up questions, but nothing too complex as neither of the partners knew anything about that area of the law. I was again quizzed about my motivations for going into law (my legal work experience doesn’t stretch very far back in time). I was asked what other careers I had considered (technology, consulting) and then pressed to explain why I wouldn’t go off and become a consultant after a couple of years as a lawyer. The subject of technology related to the commercial topic I had written about in my original online application, and I was asked about some of the legal implications that arose from that. I was also asked about whether I would not find the GDL and the LPC boring after a PhD.

One of the worst things about the process is that we were told that we had to wait six weeks to be told the outcome, so that they could weigh up the merits of all the other students on the vac schemes after us this summer.


In the end, HS took a lot longer than 6 weeks. I had the interview at the end of June, and got made an offer today, by which time I had accepted somewhere else… What have others’ experiences been this year?