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 - Clifford Chance ACCESS.

This pioneering programme consists of seven different components, each focused around specific core areas of your personal and professional development; ACCESS Development, ACCESS Mentors, ACCESS Experience, ACCESS Tutoring, ACCESS Action, ACCESS Coaching, ACCESS Network.

So welcome to ACCESS from Clifford Chance: your introduction to law and your first step towards 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. 

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.

ACCESS Mentors

You will have access to an online platform where you can ask Clifford Chance lawyers and trainees or future trainees who have come through the ACCESS scheme - whatever you want, whenever you want.

ACCESS Mentors is exclusive to the ACCESS community.

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 visit 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 handpicked tutors currently studying at the UK’s leading universities.

Designed to fit in with your schedule and learning style, your lessons will take place online, via the MyTutor 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 student studying that subject at university – enabling you to get support and teaching from someone who knows what it really takes to succeed at A Level.


With ACCESS 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.  If you want to take this further you can become a youth ambassador for Tender where you’ll be supported to help your peers recognise healthy and unhealthy behaviours in relationships, exploring issues of equality, respect, violence and abuse. 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.

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.

ACCESS Network

Following ACCESS – whatever career you enter – you’ll continue to be part of this powerful network. And it all starts with you own cohort where you will have your own WhatsApp group to share ideas and opportunities.  Just before you go to university, we’ll invite you to an ACCESS reunion. As well as strengthening your network, you’ll have the chance to meet Clifford Chance alumni from your chosen university. The reunion will be your springboard to applying to our first year undergraduate programme, SPARK.

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.

Location Scheme Dates Applications open Applications close not used
12 - 15 April 2021
3 August 2020
21 February 2021
16 - 19 August 2021
1 April 2021
30 June 2021
ACCESS Newcastle
16 - 19 August 2021
1 April 2021
30 June 2021

Due to Covid-19 restrictions our August 2021 ACCESS London and ACCESS Newcastle programmes will be one combined scheme, running on the same dates and will be held virtually.

O'Neil's ACCESS story

History BA, Second Year

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.

Myah's ACCESS story

Currently on a gap year

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 to realise your potential.


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

  • You are in Year 12 (England and Wales), S5 (Scotland) or Lower Sixth (Northern Ireland)
  • You are attending, and have attended from age 11, a state-funded, non fee-paying school/college 
  • You grew up in a household where no parent or guardian attended university.

In addition, you must also meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • 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


  • You are attending a school or college with a:

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

  • You have been, or are currently, in local authority care (for a period of three months or longer)
  • You are, or have been, a full-time or part-time carer
  •  You came to the UK as a refugee or asylum seeker.

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

You need to attend every day of the programme and will need to travel to the offices. Travel expenses will be covered.

Application process

As with all of our opportunities you need to complete an online application form. Please do not attach a CV or covering letter as these will not be reviewed. Once you have submitted your application you will receive a link to complete the Watson Glaser test.

Unlike our graduate roles, you will not be rejected based on this test score – however we will consider this alongside your application review. Remember to use our practice Watson Glaser Test and try to prepare yourself as best you can. Good Luck!

Please note that you can only apply to one ACCESS scheme a year.