Next month brings with it deadlines for dozens of the 2015 summer vacation schemes. Before finalising your applications, allow our Experts to expand on the purpose and nature of these schemes.
Why do firms offer vacation schemes?
Vacation schemes are an unrivalled chance for aspiring solicitors to immerse themselves in the culture and workings of a law firm, both in and beyond the office. The opportunity to receive guidance from a variety of experienced practitioners whilst contributing towards the firm’s work for its clients is an exciting notion. Firms appreciate that the everyday work of a practicing commercial solicitor is very different to academia, whether you study law or not.
Most law firms describe themselves as ‘friendly’ or similar, although they are exceedingly diverse. Whether you actually ‘click’ with the people and values of a firm is something best discovered by spending sometime in that environment; vacation schemes are perfect for this.
Naturally the ultimate aim of vacation schemers is to secure a much coveted Training Contract! Many firms treat vacation schemes as extended interviews to determine if candidates can complement their businesses. Although this may sound intimidating, to the contrary, a scheme is the perfect opportunity to showcase your abilities, personality and enthusiasm. Remember too, firms do actually wish to attract the best candidates! It’s likely by being selected for a vacation scheme, you’re already in contention, so have confidence and enjoy yourself!
Vacation schemes are a vital part of our trainee recruitment process. They allow us to assess you in a work environment and crucially how you fit within the firm’s culture. If you are successful in your application, you will be spending a lot of time with us and we need to be confident that you will fit in well.
From our perspective, they give us the opportunity to prove that TLT is the right firm for you. You can research us in detail, but you can never fully understand us until you spend time here. You will meet Partners and clients and have the opportunity to socialise with our trainees – make sure you take the chance to get tips from them about their own successful applications! Recruitment is a two-way process and the scheme allows you to make an informed decision about whether we are the right firm to build your career with.
In a nutshell, vacation schemes ensure you truly understand what a career in law looks like. You may not be successful the first year you apply for a training contract, however the experience gained from a vacation scheme with the feedback you will receive, will put you in a position to understand what we are looking for in a trainee when you apply again. TLT currently offer one week Easter and summer vacation schemes in our Bristol, London and Manchester offices."
What work can I expect to do on a vacation scheme?
The short answer is ‘anything’. You certainly won’t be photocopying, but you should expect to do a range of tasks which will give you a real insight into what trainee solicitors and associates do. Expect to be given research tasks, attend internal meetings, sit in on conference calls with clients and, if you’re lucky, you may also attend face-to-face client meetings or go to court.
My advice is to say ‘yes’ to everything. The vacation scheme is your chance to shine and a ‘can do’ attitude will be looked upon favourably. Do, however, complete every task to the best of your ability and ensure you meet deadlines."
Norton Rose Fulbright
At Shearman & Sterling we try to make our vacation schemes as representative of a training contract as possible. This means you'll be doing real work for real clients and quite possibly have direct contact with them! This isn't as scary as it sounds as you're supported closely by an associate supervisor, trainee mentor and participant buddy who you can share all your experiences with.
Like our trainees, the work vacation scheme participants will get to do includes research, drafting, writing emails and memos, proofreading, attending meetings and going to training sessions. This "real" experience allows a valuable insight into what life would be like at the firm and allows participants to make informed decisions about which firms are right for them for training contracts.
The schemes also ensure you get to know the firm's culture through candid presentations and workshops, working hard together on commercial transactions and seeing each other out of hours on some great socials."
Shearman & Sterling
How does an application for a vacation scheme differ to that of a training contract?
For Womble Bond Dickinson, it doesn’t. Our vacation scheme forms an integral part of our recruitment process for training contracts and, as such, it's an application for both. Other firms may differ in their approach but regardless of this fact, you should be putting the same time and effort into your vacation scheme application as you do for the training contract.
Why? It's still a competitive process. We receive as many applications for the vacation scheme as we do for training contracts. Ultimately, we're looking for candidates who have the potential to go on to secure training contracts with us so that's our benchmark when we're assessing applications.
Don't underestimate the value that firms place on these schemes; make sure you do your research, you're clear about why you want the vacation scheme, you've demonstrated the skills that they are looking for and it's free from typos. But also remember that this is a great opportunity for you to find out more about your shortlisted firms, their culture and values, and importantly whether they are the right fit for you.
Womble Bond Dickinson