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?
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 EarlyTalentAcquisition@cms-cmno.com.
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 EarlyTalentAcquisition@cms-cmno.com 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 CMS Academy and First Steps is 23.59pm on 4 January 2019. 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. The deadline for the Aberdeen Training Contract position and Open Days are on the “Apply Now” page. Deadlines for programmes which are not currently open will be advertised in due course.
What does the application process involve?
For the CMS Academy and First Steps, 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, we are unable to give feedback at application form stage or following the online test or video interview.
What are your minimum requirements?
Our minimum selection criteria are 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 international equivalent qualifications.
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 international 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 EarlyTalentAcquisition@cms-cmno.com 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?
If you have genuine mitigating circumstances that relate to your application, please provide details under the relevant section of our online application form. We will take these into consideration when we review your application.
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 awarenress
What makes a good application?
Your application form is your opportunity to make a strong first impression, so it is important that you put in the time and effort to make it right. Be clear and concise, and always check your spelling and grammar, because we are looking for evidence of real attention to detail. Don’t simply use answers from previous forms you have filled in. Take time to understand each question fully before you write your answer. It should be tailored and clearly highlight why you are applying to CMS.
Here are some tips from current trainees:
- Write your applications well in advance and submit them early.
- CMS Academy programme application 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?
Yes, we will cover the costs of attending an assessment centre. We will reimburse up to £100 for national travel and £150 for international travel. Your recruiter will advise you of the policy when you are invited to the assessment day.
I cannot make it to your assessment day. Are you flexible on dates?
We will always try to be flexible on dates for the assessment centre, 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 EarlyTalentAcquisition@cms-cmno.com and we will do our best to accommodate.
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 read up on our firm, but also be ready to convey what differentiates us rather than just repeating facts verbatim.
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 City life. 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 City life.
- 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 out loud. 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 interview.
- Wear a suit. Once you start working at CMS, it's more business casual, but you want to make a smart 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?
Your assessment exercises show us 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 prove your business acumen. Time management is crucial to ensure you answer all the questions.
In contrast, the group exercises allow us to assess whether you can manage your time, use information effectively and communicate confidently, whilst being part of a team.
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 all your fees and give you a maintenance grant of up to £7,500 a year if studying in London, and £5,000 if 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: https://www.sra.org.uk/home/home.page
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, 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.
Programme/Event specific questions:
Who can apply for CMS Academy?
Law students in their penultimate or final year in England and Wales; a law student in their penultimate year in Scotland is eligible to apply for the CMS Academy. Similarly, if you are a final year student studying outside of the UK or have completed your studies, then you are also eligible to apply for the CMS Academy.
Who can apply for First Steps?
In England and Wales, first year law students or second year non-law students (third year, if studying a four-year course). In Scotland, second year law students. For those studying outside the UK, penultimate year students are also eligible to apply for First Steps.
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?
Unfortunately, no. You will need to complete the CMS Academy at the end of your third year, as this is a pipeline programme for our training contract positions.
Do you offer vacation placements in your international offices?
We currently only offer the CMS Academy and the First Steps programme in the UK.
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 and when they are confirmed. You can apply via the website by completing the application form.
How do I find out about CMS events at my university?
All of our events are advertised on this website 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 and this would be for the following year, or in two years’ time.
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?
CMS First Steps is designed as 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: https://cms.law/en/INT/Job-opportunities
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 will 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. We do not allow you to move location and you would have to reapply in order to be considered for an alternative office.
How do I apply for a Brand Ambassadors position?
Details of our Brand Ambassador programme will be made available on this website in Spring 2019.
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. Unfortunately, we do not offer ad-hoc work experience at other times.
Training Contract specific questions:
How do I apply directly for a training contract with CMS?
Currently, the main route to securing a training contract is the CMS Academy and we do not typically open training contract vacancies. You would need to successfully complete the CMS Academy in order to be offered a training contract and this would be for the following year, or in two years’ time.
What does a training contract involve?
Upon commencing a training contract, our trainees complete a comprehensive induction programme. During the training contract, our trainees undertake four six-month seats across various practice areas. There may be an opportunity to be seconded to one of the firm’s clients or to another UK or international office.
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.
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. The majority secure a position in their preferred practice group.
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.
Solicitor Apprenticeship specific questions:
Where will I be based for the duration of the programme?
You’ll be located in the office you applied to for at least four years. The exception is in Manchester – during your first four years, you’ll enjoy a minimum six-month placement in our Sheffield office. 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. We want our solicitor apprentices to remain with us for the long term.
How will I be assessed?
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, 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.
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 13s or beyond), non-law graduates or career changers.
Why are we recruiting solicitor apprentices?
- To help establish a healthy pipeline of high-quality junior talent into CMS, to meet our ongoing recruitment requirements.
- To ensure we retain our competitive edge – other law firms have started introducing similar programmes, and solicitor apprenticeships running alongside existing trainee routes are quickly becoming the industry norm.
- To offer an alternative route into the legal profession, providing a level playing field across all pools of candidates.
Will there be any bespoke parts of the 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?
As a solicitor apprentice, you’ll be given one day off per week to study, leaving 80% of your time to gain on-the-job experience.
What qualification will I receive at the end?
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 ask for further information from the Early Talent Acquisition team if this is of interest to you.
Who is eligible to apply for a solicitor apprenticeship?
We accept applications from school leavers (Year 13s or beyond), including non-law graduates without legal work experience. We’re also open to applications from career changers. Our solicitor apprenticeships are not for those with a law degree qualification as the first four years of the programme will include completion of an LLB in Legal Practice and Skills.
What does the selection process involve?
Our assessment process is in line with our trainee selection process and involves exactly the same steps: online application form; online test; video interview; and an assessment day with activities modified for apprentices. We take a holistic view of candidates before making our decisions and no one part of the process is more important than another.
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