Training Contracts

Wake Smith have proudly been recruiting trainees to start their careers in law for a substantial number of years. It is an essential part of our business and highlights our commitment to employee development. Many of our former trainees are still with us, with some progressing on to Director level. 
  • Academic achievements – as a minimum, you must have (or be predicted to achieve) a minimum of a 2:1 degree. We welcome applications from both law and non-law graduates

  • Dedication, ambition and enthusiasm for law   - we want to know that you are committed and serious about working in law

  • Personality   - we look for people with a positive, pro-active outlook with the ability and drive to get things done

  • Work experience – we want to see relevant examples of work experience ideally in both law and client facing roles

  • Focused on solutions for our clients – you will need to be committed to delivering exceptional client service, going the extra mile and delivering the best results in everything you do

  • Approachable and accountable – a friendly, respectful and supportive approach in dealings with colleagues and clients alike is essential

  • Ambitious to continually improve – always striving for the best outcome possible, continually building on strengths and taking a pro-active approach to drive improvements is key

  • Committed to teamwork and collaboration   - we want you to be able to use your own initiative but also have the ability to work effectively as part of a  team and the wider firm to achieve success

Our trainees are active, fee earning members of the departments they work in. The level of client interaction will vary from seat to seat, and from deal to deal. The intellectual challenges can be formidable, but a combination of formal training, personal coaching and commercial responsibility will help you evolve into a successful lawyer and an effective member of our team.

Tom Weightman, director in the commercial property team at Wake Smith Solicitors looks at why trainees are so important to a law firm.

Wake Smith have been recruiting trainees to start their careers in law for a substantial number of years.

For any medium sized business there is always an element of risk attached to trainee recruitment, but this particularly applies in the legal sector where firms typically recruit around two years ahead of a training contract commencing.

Most law students will testify that this feels like a long time because they often still have exams and more studying ahead of them.

From the employer’s side, Wake Smith is committed to the process because it has proven to be essential to the firm’s growth both in the short term and the long term.

In the long term, it is hoped trainees will be success stories by staying at the firm and to become future directors. This is only viable from an employer’s side if the firm offers the right platform to do so.

Wake Smith provides this by embedding its values into its dealings with all staff.

For trainees in particular, Wake Smith seeks to offer clear career pathways and offering room to network and build up contacts inside and outside of the firm.

When looking at prospective trainees, we want people who share into this vision and are excited at the prospect of building their careers here in Sheffield, helping our clients across the region and embracing the varied work that comes from experiencing a training contract in a full-service law firm.

Whilst many firms will try to paint a similar long-term picture, Wake Smith can point to multiple heads of department and directors who have come through the ranks over a number of a years.

In the short term, in a generally tricky national recruitment market we have most recently seen the benefits of continuing to invest in training contracts in our Corporate team.

Wake Smith is fortunate as an ever-increasing demand for our commercial services over the past year coincided with a number of excellent trainees who wanted to specialise in this area.

It has enabled us to make the most of the opportunity and quickly have one of the most dynamic Corporate teams in the region entirely organically.

From a personal side, I joined the firm as a trainee in 2012. I won a raffle at the Sheffield University Law Fair many years ago for a day’s work experience at Wake Smith and never looked back.

Fast forward to now, and I have the opportunity to help with trainee recruitment, marketing and mentoring alongside my fee-earner responsibilities.

Most firms do not offer this and I do not take it for granted. It is a privilege to play a part in helping one of the oldest law firm’s in the region continue to grow and to help identify the next generation as part of this.

Our training contracts consist of four seats of six months each, over two years, and typically include seats in our Company Commercial, Commercial Property and Clinical Negligence departments.

Applications for our 2025 training contract intake are now closed.  Please check back for updates on our 2026 intake in Spring 2024. 

What our former trainees say...


Tom Weightman, Director, Commercial Property

Tom Weightman, Director, Commercial Property

Professionally I have grown up at Wake Smith and experienced each level within the firm from trainee upwards. It is a privilege to be part of a working environment where what you are doing makes a genuine difference to the firm as a whole, at every level.

Millie Vaughan, Solicitor, Company Commercial

Millie Vaughan, Solicitor, Company Commercial

I applied to Wake Smith because of its great reputation in the area, and because I could gain exposure and knowledge of both personal and business-oriented practice areas during my training. I did seats in Company Commercial, Employment, Clinical Negligence and Private Client. I then qualified as a Solicitor in Wake Smith’s Company Commercial team in September 2022. Wake Smith is a great place to train at for so many reasons. The experience and exposure in each seat is great – as a Trainee Solicitor, you are given lots of responsibility, whilst also feeling supported by the team you are in. There is a very friendly and welcoming environment too, and opportunities to get involved with wider aspects of the firm, such as the Charity Board and Marketing Committee.

Joseph Creasor, Solicitor, Company Commercial

Joseph Creasor, Solicitor, Company Commercial

The firm has a great reputation for all aspects of its work but most importantly for me, it has a strong reputation in its business legal services. During my first 6-month seat in commercial property, I worked closely with Tom Weightman and had strong involvement in a variety of different work. One standout piece of work was the first registration of a land in Sheffield, acting for a local charitable trust. During my second seat, I spent 6 months working closely with Lindsey Canning in the Family team, which saw me attending court with Lindsey in addition to preparing bundles and various matrimonial documents. I learned invaluable skills from Lindsey, which I can now bring into my role in the Company Commercial team.

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