Where bright
minds meet

London Graduates

Not just a work placement.
It's time to ACCESS your future.

Clifford Chance is proud to be a founding member of PRIME. Through PRIME, we are committed to ensuring that anyone who wants to enter the world of law has an equal chance to do so, regardless of their background.

For many years, obtaining work experience in the legal sector depended largely on who you know, rather than what you know. PRIME members have made a commitment to change this by providing fair access to work experience.


Our response to this is our bespoke, award-winning, two-year development programme for year 12 or equivalent students – Clifford Chance ACCESS.

This pioneering programme consists of twelve different components, each focused around specific core areas of your personal and professional development, culminating in the opportunity to secure a place on our ACCESS SPARK programme and ultimately a Training Contract.

Breaking down barriers

Hear from some of our ACCESS alumni that have gone on to secure Training Contracts with us. They share their fears, aspirations and experiences with you to bring to life the importance of our widening access initiative. 


Your journey with Clifford Chance will start with a virtual launch event to celebrate your place on the programme.

At this event, we will explain what to expect over the next two years and talk through the journey to becoming a lawyer at Clifford Chance with former ACCESS students, trainees and the Graduate Recruitment Team. You are welcome to bring along a teacher, parent or guardian to this event.

ACCESS Development

A four-day, classroom-based placement for an introduction to Clifford Chance and the legal sector.

We’ll unpack and explain Clifford Chance’s key practice areas and also look at different types of legal careers, from barristers to in-house lawyers.

You will also develop the core business skills critical to professional success, whatever your final career choice.  

This will be held virtually, making it accessible to anyone, anywhere. 

ACCESS Mentors

You will have access to a dedicated mentor as well as support and training on how to make the most out of a mentoring relationship.

Your mentor will be on hand to provide invaluable advice throughout the two years and will be a Clifford Chance lawyer, trainee or future trainee.

ACCESS Experience

ACCESS Experience offers you the opportunity to develop your insight and skills during a unique five day programme delivered by the Social Mobility Business Partnership.

During this award winning programme, you’ll spend time with five different companies – in sectors ranging from retail to media to sport – and  take part in immersive workshops that focus on how law, finance and other core business areas interact in that sector.

ACCESS Tutoring

All ACCESS students can have one-to-one tutoring, delivered by tutors with specialist knowledge in the subject(s) of your choice. 

Designed to fit in with your schedule and learning style, your lessons will take place online, via the MyTutor or Peppo platform, at a time and place that suits you.

Once you’ve chosen the subject you’d like to focus on, we’ll match you with a tutor with experience in that subject who will be able to provide you with relevant and targeted support. 


With ACCESS Action, you have the chance to make an impact on your community right now by working with Tender, a charity working to end domestic abuse, sexual violence and sexual harassment. After attending a workshop focused on creating healthy relationships as you transition to university, you can become a youth ambassador for Tender, where you’ll be supported to help your peers. You’ll also master a diverse range of mentoring skills, increase your confidence and become part of a movement that is working to change attitudes to respect and safety.


This will provide you with an insight into what it means to be a board member. You'll learn about the different types of boards and their responsibilities.

Afterwards, you will have the opportunity to join the ACCESS Advisory Board to help inform our future ACCESS strategy and development. You'll also be well equipped to go on to find a Youth board member or a Young Trustee's position contributing to your professional growth.

ACCESS Coaching

You have all the skills required to be a lawyer – we want you to have every opportunity to practise these skills. You'll receive executive coaching – including small group discussions on current affairs, application hints and tips via webinars, application advice and one-to-one interview coaching – delivered by Rare Recruitment, the UK’s leaders in diversity graduate recruitment.


This aspect of the programme has been designed to support you during your transition from school to university.

There will be group sessions from various experts and university admission teams to help guide you through how to approach UCAS, including useful advice on how to put together your personal statement. You will also receive informative sessions from our future trainees who are currently at university, on how to prepare for university, study tips, budgeting and more.

ACCESS Network

Following ACCESS – whatever career you enter – you’ll continue to be part of this powerful, exclusive community. 

Each year of the programme, we’ll invite you to an in-person ACCESS networking event. As well as strengthening your network, you’ll have the chance to meet Clifford Chance alumni from your chosen university.

ACCESS Recruiter

1:1 sessions with a member of the Graduate Recruitment Team will include career development coaching sessions. In addition, you will have access to group skills sessions to help prepare you for the steps that lie ahead.

This will also provide an opportunity for you to stay connected with us and request any additional advice or support if needed. 


The programme will ultimately lead you to an opportunity to attend ACCESS SPARK - a work experience programme exclusively designed for our ACCESS students in their first year of university.

Based on our award-winning, five-day, paid SPARK scheme, you'll experience an intensive schedule of classroom-based learning, complemented with time spent work shadowing lawyers in our practice areas. You'll receive a £450 per week salary, too.

Following the scheme, there will be an opportunity to attend a bespoke assessment day to secure your Training Contract at the end of this pioneering, two-year development programme.

Application process

As with all of our opportunities, you need to complete an online application form. Once you have submitted your application, you will receive a link to complete the Watson Glaser test.

Remember to use our practice Watson Glaser Test and try to prepare yourself as best you can. Good Luck!

Applications open: 1 September 2022
Applications close: 30 April 2023
Video interviews: 29 May – 2 June (half term)
ACCESS Launch event: 18 July 2023
ACCESS Development: 24 – 27 July 2023

Apply Now


In order to apply to Clifford Chance ACCESS, you must meet the following qualifying criteria:

1. You are in Year 12 (England and Wales), S5 (Scotland) or Lower Sixth (Northern Ireland)
Unfortunately if you do not meet this criteria then you are not eligible for the ACCESS programme.

You must also meet at least TWO of the following criteria (please tick all that are applicable to you);

1. You are attending, and have attended from age 11, a state-funded, non fee-paying school/college

2. You grew up in a household where no parent or guardian attended university.

3. You are currently in receipt of, or have previously received, free school meals, Pupil Premium, Education Maintenance Allowance and/or a 16 to 19 Bursary

4. You are attending a school or college with;

  • A below average A-level or Higher point score; and/or
  • low rate of progression to higher education


5. You have been, or are currently, in local authority care (for a period of three months or longer)
6. You are, or have been, a full-time or part-time carer
7. You came to the UK as a refugee or an asylum seeker.
8. At age 14, the occupation of the main household earner (parent/guardian) is considered to be in the lower socioeconomic group which is namely;

  • technical and craft occupations such as: motor mechanic, plumber, printer, electrician, gardener, train driver
  • routine, semi-routine manual and service occupations such as: postal worker, machine operative, security guard, caretaker, farm worker, catering assistant, sales assistant, HGV driver, cleaner, porter, packer, labourer, waiter or waitress, bar staff
  • long-term unemployed (claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance or earlier unemployment benefit for more than a year)

Note: young people who meet the local authority care criterion do not need to meet any other criterion.

Ready, Set, Law

You might never have considered becoming a commercial lawyer before, or you might have thought about it but not really known what it is all about. That is where this internship comes in. Crafted by our own lawyers, this programme will introduce you to a range of topical legal issues and give you the opportunity to complete tasks that will allow you to put into practice what you have learnt. You will also be taken through basic trainee-type tasks so you can experience first-hand what the role will entail. You will come away feeling knowledgeable about what a career in law could look like and equipped with the confidence to take the next steps, should you decide this is the right path for you. This virtual work experience programme has been designed for 16 - 18 year olds but is open to all.

Find out more

O'Neil's ACCESS story (he/him)

History BA, Graduate

"I applied for ACCESS as it was an opportunity to gain invaluable insight into leading firms ahead of commencing university. It was also a gateway to accessing contacts and gaining mentorship in an industry that I previously had no connections to."

"As a sixth form student, I assumed that I would be out of my depth and unable to relate to employees at the firm. However, having completed the scheme I was able to appreciate the real culture of inclusivity and value placed on developing great talent from all types of backgrounds.

Throughout Clifford Chance ACCESS, I had various opportunities to develop key skills. The most important was my understanding of the operations carried out by an international firm and the different types of work carried out by the various practice areas. As well as this, I was given the opportunity to pitch in front of a board of senior associates, which helped me nurture my presentational and public speaking skills. Throughout the programme, we also worked in teams to complete group tasks, allowing me to develop efficiency when working in groups.

The ACCESS scheme allowed me to appreciate the unique attributes and skills I could bring to the firm. 

Having previously had no legal experience, it enabled me to envisage myself as a lawyer and affirmed that corporate law was a career I was interested in. Prior to embarking on the scheme, I had little conception of the process of converting from a non-law background. 

Since my time on ACCESS, I have gone on to secure various schemes and also partook in the Clifford Chance Open Day as well as the SPARK scheme following which I was offered a Training Contract with the firm.

Apply! There is honestly no other opportunity that will stand you in such good stead when you're considering your future career aspirations.

ACCESS is one of the very few schemes that will give you a real sense of what it's like to work in a leading law firm at such an early stage, and the networks you form during the programme really do become lifelong bonds giving you a great support network for your career."

Elizabeth's ACCESS story (she/her)

ACCESS alumna, year 13 student

"I applied to ACCESS to gain a deeper insight into the legal sector and I thought it would be a great opportunity to start my legal journey. ACCESS stood out to me because, unlike other work experiences, it is a two-year development programme that prepares you for university and your future career."

"During ACCESS Development, I had the opportunity to listen to the experiences of a range of Clifford Chance professionals, from future trainees to the regional Managing Partner. The networking sessions showed me that the firm’s large structure is not something to be intimidated by but should be viewed positively because it presents opportunities and a sense of community. The sessions also highlighted the firm’s dedication to increasing social mobility and that a career in law is attainable.

As well as networking with lawyers from Clifford Chance, I had the opportunity to meet Deutsche Bank in-house lawyers and barristers from One Essex Court, which broadened my perception of a lawyer and presented alternative legal career routes. 

As part of ACCESS, I also participated in the Social Mobility Business Partnership insight week, where I learnt how firms interact with different types of businesses. The programme also emphasised the significance of commercial awareness and how law and business are interrelated.

The ‘Ready, Set, Law’ open-access, work experience programme has allowed me to apply my knowledge to relevant legal issues such as social media, cryptocurrency and sustainable lending.

I enjoyed being able to complete tasks that imitate the day-to-day responsibilities of a trainee. 

Overall, ACCESS has been an invaluable opportunity and it has given me the confidence I needed to apply to first-year schemes, as my CV, knowledge and confidence have all significantly been strengthened by this experience.

I would recommend the programme to anyone with an interest in law, whether it's a definite career path or for those who are still uncertain.

ACCESS is a great first step into gaining an in-depth understanding of what a career in law looks like and will guide you into making an informed decision as to whether a career in law is for you."

Myah's ACCESS story (she/her)

Currently on a gap year before starting at Bristol University 

"I applied to ACCESS because it seemed like a fantastic opportunity to get first-hand experience of working in the legal sector. In addition, I knew that it would be a great opportunity for personal development; coming from Southampton, the experience of what it is like to work in Canary Wharf (including rush hour!) was vastly different to what I am used to, and was certainly a beneficial learning curve."

"I found out about ACCESS through researching outreach opportunities at firms. I knew Clifford Chance would be large and impressive, as well as the atmosphere being very professional. However, my expectations were still completely exceeded! Everyone was really welcoming and approachable, and all of the activities were very engaging. I enjoyed being in such a vibrant environment.

I feel as though I developed many professional skills. For instance, from undertaking the business challenge I now feel more confident pitching presentations to panels of judges and answering questions on the spot. This skill was further developed in the mock interviews that were conducted later in the week. In addition, the personal impact session was hugely beneficial for personal development, because it shifted my perspective of the way I carry myself.

I had previously considered myself to be more of an independent worker, but from the team-work tasks and networking during ACCESS, I realised that when you're working with equally driven and passionate people, the quality of work is so much better and productive. I also feel as though the sense of accomplishment is stronger when you've worked with other people, as you're able to celebrate your achievements together and be proud of one another.

The most surprising thing I learnt from the ACCESS programme is just how amiable the culture of the Firm is. I realised that working in such a large firm is not as scary as it seems, as everyone at Clifford Chance is so friendly and welcoming.

I really enjoyed participating in the business challenge because it was a great opportunity for us to put into practice the skills that we were being taught.

Since ACCESS, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the SMBP Work and Skills Insight Week, which again is thanks to the organisation of Clifford Chance. This widened the scope of corporate professions that I have had the opportunity to experience. 

In addition, I developed the professional and interpersonal skills that I had gained at ACCESS at several summer school residential including Cambridge, Kings and Oxford.

I have also won a Cambridge University essay competition, with an aspect of my entry including transferable knowledge that I had gained at ACCESS. I was able to link this into my personal statement in my recent UCAS application.

My ACCESS network has been incredibly valuable. I am so grateful to have had such a supportive and friendly cohort to work alongside during ACCESS. Many of us still keep in touch.

In addition, the mentoring platform has been very helpful, and I have been able to build rapport with trainee solicitors who have all been so kind and easy to talk to.

My long-term career aspirations are to qualify as a solicitor and work in the corporate sector. I certainly recommend applying to the ACCESS programme. It is such an enriching experience as you develop both professional skills and interpersonal skills.

In addition, you will meet like-minded people who you'll be able to keep in contact with after the programme, and the atmosphere of the firm is so friendly and welcoming.

Participating in ACCESS will help you realise your potential."

Our ACCESS programme

We are incredibly proud that our ACCESS programme was named 'Best Social Mobility Strategy' at the 2020 TARGETjobs awards. The judges praised the breadth of the two-year development programme and were particularly impressed with our focus on pipelining ACCESS alumni into our first year SPARK scheme.