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The Government Legal Profession Application Process

The application process for the Government Legal Profession is detailed below. Be sure to read thoroughly all the different stages before starting your application. Note: The application process is kept under review and is subject to change.

Eligibility Criteria

Before you begin your application form, you must ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria. As part of the wider civil service, the civil service ‘non-reserved’ application rules apply. Thus, you can only apply if you are a: UK national, National of Commonwealth countries, National of the Republic of Ireland, EEA nationals with (or eligible for) status under the EU settlement scheme, relevant EEA or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service, relevant EEA or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service or certain family members of the relevant EU and Turkish nationals. Further information can be found on the Civil Service website.  

Stage one

The application process is in four stages. The first stage is an online application form and a situational judgement test (SJT). If you meet the eligibility criteria in the application form, you’ll be invited to take the SJT. The test aims to assess your judgement when dealing with situations legal trainees might have to encounter. You’ll receive 16 hypothetical situations, and will be asked to choose which response would be most effective and which would be the least effective. The SJT is conducted online and is untimed, but normally takes around 25-30 minutes. A free practice test can be found here.  

Stage two

If you pass the SJT, you’ll be invited to complete the verbal reasoning test (VRT). This test is also conducted online, and you are given 24 minutes to complete it. The VRT aims to test your ability to analyse and interpret complex information. If you’d like to practise beforehand, you can complete a free practice test.  

Stage three

Successful candidates will then complete a critical reasoning test, which assesses your ability to logically analyse assumptions, arguments, deductions, inferences and interpret information. The test is conducted online and is timed, and it should take between 30-40 minutes to complete it. A free practice test can be found here. 

Stage four

If you reach the pass mark for the video interview and are one of the highest scoring candidates, you’ll be invited to attend a half-day assessment centre. Applicants are contacted by the recruitment team asking you to book your preferred date, and you’ll receive an information pack about the assessment centre. If you still have questions after this, there will be a conference call which will allow you to ask questions, and hear from the recruitment team and representatives from the Government Legal Profession. At this stage, you’ll also be asked which department you would prefer to work in, and the team will aim to honour your request. 

The assessment centre involves a written exercise and a panel interview. Candidates have one hour to complete the written exercise. You’ll be given a legally-based problem which you’ll need to analyse and address a number of questions. The exercise has been designed with non-law students in mind, so you’ll receive all the information about the law necessary to complete the exercise. 

The panel interview will last around 70 minutes, and will be with two senior lawyers and an independent chairperson. The panel will question you for about 15 minutes on your response to the written exercise, allowing you to expand further upon what you wrote. Candidates will also be asked about how they would behave in certain situations, and will have to provide a situation. In your response, you should aim to briefly describe the situation, explain what you did and describe the results of the action you took. The situation you choose can be from any setting, such as education, voluntary work or your home life. Sometimes, the panel may ask how you would respond to a situation they provide you with.

The interview will also involve some strengths-based questions, to assess whether you’re a good fit for the organisation, based on what you enjoy and what you do well. Examples include “What are your weaknesses?” and “What are you good at?” Finally, the panel will ask you about your motivation, and why you choose to apply for this trainee scheme in particular.