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Law Graduates in the Civil Service Alternative

by Minoas Vitalis
Reading Time: 4 minutes

In our previous article, we examined one of the most famous ways to enter into the UK Civil Service as a law graduate – the Civil Service Fast Stream. However, this is not the only route in, and today we are going to take a look at 2 of the other options available to you. We are also going to examine what it takes to be successful in each of these routes, as well as what you can expect once you are in.

One popular option for law graduates is to apply for a training contract or pupillage through the Government Legal Trainee Scheme (LTS). It has to be noted that for the 2022 recruitment period, which has closed, they only offered training contracts for those following the LPC route to qualify as a solicitor.  The Government Departments offering places through this scheme are the Government Legal Department, the Government Legal Department Commercial, the HM Revenue & Customs, the National Crime Agency, and the Competition and Markets Authority.

If you apply for this Scheme and you’re successful, the duration of your programme depends on your initial choice. If your application was for a training contract, you’re going to be allocated to one of the aforementioned Departments. While the type of training will be different in each Department, in general, you’d be expected to spend time in 4 different areas of practice (seats). Each seat is going to last 6 months and, in general, you can expect to get 2 litigation and 2 advisory seats. The majority of positions are based in London but there are a very limited number of opportunities available in Leeds and Manchester. If you have completed previous training elsewhere, you have to remember that it does not count and that you will still have to go through the standard 2-year training contract period.

On the other hand, if you applied for a pupillage, you would be allocated either in the Government Legal Department or the HM Revenue & Customs. The training period there typically lasts two years and again, previous training completed elsewhere does not count. You will spend your first year in your allocated Department and a set of external chambers. After that, your second year will be spent solely within your Department. Your tasks will vary but, in general, you can expect to be assisting other lawyers with their research, carrying out your own research and drafting opinions, and attending court, at first with your supervisor.

After your training is completed, your Department hopes to be able to offer you a permanent position as a qualified lawyer but this cannot be guaranteed.  Your tasks will vary and depend on the Department you are assigned to but in general, you are expected to move on to different practice areas early in your career to acquire a broad understanding of the work done by your Department. If you are in the beginning or have not yet started your Bar Training course or your Legal Practice course, your Department will offer to pay your course fees. Your Department also does not have any preference about which school you attend, or which electives you select. Your Department may also be able to offer you a  grant to cover your costs while you are studying the LPC or BPTC but unfortunately not the GDL.

Once you are in, the benefits are numerous. You will have a generous annual leave entitlement, you will be able to join a Civil Service pension scheme, and you will have access to numerous other benefits, including flexible working arrangements, interest-free season ticket loans, and special leave for domestic emergencies. You will also be able to take advantage of the in-house training and Civil Service programmes which will provide you with the latest updates that concern the Government legal profession.

The next options we are going to take a look at are Paralegal roles and the Diversity Summer Scheme. Departments participating in the LTS programme also advertise their paralegal roles on the Civil Service jobs website but there may be a possibility to be offered a limited-time paralegal role if you’re a successful LTS candidate. The Diversity Summer Scheme lasts for a week and takes place during the summer holidays. The aim of this scheme is to offer insight and experience of working as a lawyer to those who are under-represented in the profession. You can be either an undergraduate or graduate and apply only through the organisations that are partners in this programme. These are Aspiring Solicitors, Law Society Diversity Access Scheme, Social Mobility Foundation, Bridging the Bar, and Black Lawyers Circle.

If you want to apply for any of the legal roles advertised on the Civil Service jobs website, you will have to go through an application process which includes an online application form, a test and assessment testing your skills, and an interview. The selection process may also include a written exercise or an aptitude test. The purpose of these exercises is to evaluate your skills and abilities.

In general, the skills and abilities required to succeed in these roles are : good analytical and research skills; good drafting skills; good communication skills, both written and oral; good interpersonal skills; the ability to work under pressure and to deadlines; the ability to use your own initiative; and good team-working skills.It is also important to have an understanding of the civil service and how it works, as well as an appreciation of the role of the Department you are applying to.


So there you have it! Some of the different types of legal roles within the Civil Service, the benefits of working as a lawyer there, and the application process. We hope that this article has been helpful and informative. Please remember that by the time you apply, the information given in this article may be out of date, so it is always best to check online on the Civil Service or the Government Legal Department websites for the most up-to-date information. Good luck and stay tuned for our future articles!


Minoas graduated with a Merit upon studying the full-time MPA Public Administration – International Development degree (MPA-ID) at the University of York. He is currently working as a freelance EU affairs consultant in Belgium.


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