The Student Column: 10 top tips on how to get the most out of a vacation scheme

Written by 
The Student Column: 10 top tips on how to get the most out of a vacation scheme

Freddie Mehlig studied Law at the University of Bristol. He completed vacation schemes with Kennedys and Capsticks in 2014, and began his training contract with Kennedys in September 2016. He is therefore well-placed to share with us his advice on all things vacation schemes…

1) Know what you want

Before starting the process of applying for vacation schemes, be clear in your own mind what it is you’re looking for. Take some time to look into the firm and think about what you hope to learn and gain from spending time there. If a firm does a lot of commercial litigation and you have no interest in that, then it probably isn’t one you should be applying to!

2) Ask Questions

Whether at the interview stage or once you’ve started, ask clear questions. People are more than willing to explain things and it shows an eagerness to learn and understand the firm’s work. It is better to ask than risk doing something wrong, especially if you’re really unsure about a task you’ve been assigned.

3) Be enthusiastic

It is obvious you want to be there, otherwise you wouldn’t have applied and accepted the offer, so show it! Be positive both about the work you are given and those you are working with. It goes a long way and will encourage colleagues to involve you in interesting pieces of work. A vac scheme is a great way to show that you can fit in with the teams, and if you are being negative it will not come across well to the people that provide your feedback.

4) Apply your skills

The firm believes in your ability, so use the skills you have shown throughout your academic life. They are looking for the skills you possess and how you can apply them to a legal situation, so use them and trust in your ability to complete the work you are given.

5) Get involved

If an event is put on then embrace it and make the most of what the firm is offering. They want to impress you as much as you do them, so take the opportunities that arise during this short time at the firm. Get to know as many people as possible and interact with them away from the work environment when the chance comes.

6) Get to know your fellow vac schemers

You may well end up working with your vac scheme peers one day. It’s important to get along with those you’re working with as the firm will want to see that you are a team player. You’re all experiencing the scheme together and it’s worth bonding whilst there. It isn’t The Hunger Games!

7) Be confident

Try not to shy away from the experience and show those around you that you’re up to the task. Don’t get into arrogant territory, however, as this is a turn off for the firm, despite misconceptions about those in the legal world!

8) Use your time wisely

If you find you have completed a task earlier than expected and are awaiting instructions, make use of the resources at your disposal. Check the firm’s intranet, look at the latest relevant cases to the seat you’re in and read up on what’s happened in the business world that day.

9) Get to know Practical Law

This extremely useful online database can often provide answers and give good direction to a task you may have been given. Its comprehensive base of material will help you, so try to become familiar with how it works.

10) Make sure you are professional and polite

Each day you go into the office you will be meeting and working with solicitors and partners, and first impressions mean a lot. This can include what you wear, tone, manner and what you are speaking to people about.