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Clifford Chance launches its pioneering non-legal internship programme, LIFT, for future trainees

5 December 2019

Clifford Chance launches its pioneering non-legal internship programme, LIFT, for future trainees

International law firm Clifford Chance launches its LIFT (Learning Internships for Future Trainees) programme, an industry-first internship programme which will give a number of its London-based future trainees first-hand business experience and the opportunity to develop applicable non-legal skills. The firm is reducing the number of places on its London vacation scheme to further enhance its offering for future trainees, enabling them to hit the ground running in their training contracts and help them in their future careers as lawyers.

This move comes as the firm continues to develop its multi-award-winning SPARK offering. The SPARK scheme is the only one of its kind – offering first-year university students a week of work experience at the firm with the potential to interview for a training contract afterwards. Future trainees will have the opportunity to continue their skills development as they progress through university with the LIFT programme.

Clifford Chance ran a pilot over the last two years to gauge the suitability of the internship programme, funding and arranging placements for 10 future trainees at Clifford Chance subsidiary Applied Solutions, cloud solutions provider Cloudreach, lawtech start-up Lexoo and real-time recruitment chat platform Meet & Engage.

The pilot was a success, with the participants saying that they would recommend the internship to their peers and the employers praising the contributions of the future trainees. One future trainee, who interned with Lexoo, comments, “There are many ways that this experience will make me a better trainee. Most importantly, it will ensure that the client experience is at the front of my mind at all times. There are many lessons to be learnt from disruptive legal startups with regard to delivering legal services more efficiently and effectively; and will lend itself to stronger and more fruitful relationships with clients in the future.” Additionally, two of the participants became AWS certified cloud practitioners during their internships with Cloudreach – candidates usually require at least six months to complete the certificate.

The two-month paid programme, which officially launches in Summer 2020, will give future trainees hands-on work experience in areas such as product design and creation, marketing, business development, operations, coding and data analytics. The benefits of the programme to the future trainees include:

  • Understanding the industries in which law firms operate and gaining new perspectives on industry challenges and trends;
  • Understanding how to talk to clients and their needs, proposing solutions and delivering products
  • Embracing an entrepreneurial spirit, solving problems by thinking creatively and being innovative; and
  • Taking responsibility for projects, understanding how to execute a task, designing a solution, and presenting it to the business

"As the legal industry evolves, students are looking for new ways to differentiate themselves from their peers. They are looking for opportunities that will help them develop both personally and professionally, and allow them to have an immediate impact when starting their training contracts," says Laura Yeates, Head of Graduate Talent at Clifford Chance.

"The LIFT programme is the next step in the move away from the traditional recruitment model and follows on from the success of our SPARK programme, a five-day paid scheme for exceptional first year undergraduate students. It will allow us to provide unique support to future trainees in the period between being offered a training contract and their first day at Clifford Chance."

Clifford Chance UK Managing Partner Michael Bates adds: "We are always looking for smarter ways of delivering world-class legal services to our clients. Our trainees are integral to client work, so from the outset of this project we saw that this was an additional opportunity to invest in our future trainees. We believe this is the best way to ensure we have the best team in place to thrive as the way we and our clients work continues to change in the years ahead."

LIFT will complement Clifford Chance's existing graduate recruitment programme, including the SPARK programme, open days and vacation schemes. The application process for the internship programme will open in early 2020 and Clifford Chance is open to establishing partnerships with new organisations interested in participating.