Lee T.

Vacation Scheme
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Lee T.
United Kingdom

My employment

Vacation Scheme
DLA Piper, King & Wood Mallesons, Linklaters and Walker Morris
United Kingdom
Legal services
Large business (250+ employees)

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A day in the life of a Vacation Scheme in the United Kingdom

Summer vacation schemes for law - with real responsibility

How I looked for work

Firstly, I used careers websites such as LawCareers.Net and read the firm's basic entry. Contained here was an overview of the practice and its vital statics; including office locations, salary, vacation scheme application deadline, and areas of specialisation. This gave me a useful snapshot of the firm and it allowed me to identify quickly and easily whether this practice was a place I could imagine training in.

Secondly, I used the law firm's websites. The amount of career information to be found can vary quite dramatically. I found that some firms, however, had special mini-sites devoted solely to recruitment.

Thirdly, I looked at legal directories. These publications included, The Training Contract and Pupillage Handbook, Chambers UK Student Guide, Chambers UK Guide, Lex 100 and the Legal 500. These sources provided me with an in-depth insight into firms' areas of expertise; their ranking in different practice areas; recent cases and clients; and quotes from the clients and trainees.

Finally, other sources I used included the legal press, social media and legal blogging sites.

How I found out about the job

Prospects website

The recruitment process

Vacation schemes applications were open to penultimate-year law, final-year law, final-year non-law and graduates. Firstly, I had to submit an application to each law firm I was interested in. In addition, some firms required me to complete a psychometric test. If my application form and/or psychometric test was successful, I was invited to attend an assessment centre which involved a face to face interview with either a member of HR, managing associate or partner at the firm. Moreover, some assessment centres consisted of a case study or group exercise.

My advice to students considering work

Firstly, research the law firm beforehand. A little knowledge goes a long way. If you have read up on the firm and have some questions ready you will be able to show you are genuinely interested in its work. It will also help you connect with your new colleagues.

Secondly, make sure you network on your vacation scheme. You can use your scheme to build contacts as well as legal knowledge. Relationship management is an essential part of being a solicitor. Social events, lunches and dinners are a great opportunity to network and quiz colleagues.

Thirdly, prioritise your vacation scheme workload. You need to come across as reliable and organised. Make sure you clarify the urgency of tasks given to you by fee-earners. Find out when the work is needed by and meet that deadline. Always remember to take along a pen and paper to meetings and be aware that certain tasks may require coming in early or staying late.

Finally, keep a record of your legal work experience. You will find that your vacation scheme is very busy and as a result it can be difficult to remember everything. Consider keeping a diary or some notes if certain aspects of your time with a firm grab your attention. That way, if you decide to apply for a training contract with the firm you’ll have some information ready for your application form and/or interview.

What I do

This was a vacation scheme during the university summer holidays. I worked in the offices of a number of law firms for two to four weeks, getting stuck in to project work, attending meetings, doing training, and shadowing senior colleagues.

Skills I use and how I developed them

Firstly, my teamwork skills were important because the type of work that I was involved in was so big in scale and complexity that it is unlikely that I was working on a project by myself. Often, entire departments were tasked to solve one legal problem, and I found it was vital for a lawyer to draw on all the expertise and talent available and bring the best out of whoever they are working with.

Secondly, I developed my communication skills. It was clear from my vacation schemes a large proportion of a solicitor’s life will be spent drawing up documents. I found the art of being a good commercial lawyer is being able to convey information in a succinct way. It was vital to be able to understand how and when to alter a written register, whether that be for writing concisely and clearly to explain a complex legal issue to a client or to write formally and in a structured manner to opposing counsel, or to a judge.

Finally, before the vacation schemes, understanding the definition of commercial awareness was very difficult. Throughout my time at the firms I found in essence, commercial awareness is about recognising two ideas: first, that a law firm is a business like any other, and second, that all the trials and tribulations of the business world drive your client’s legal needs and you must be able to understand and react to them.

What I like most

I enjoyed the type of work I was allocated. Everyday was different - there is always something new to learn. Additionally, I appreciated conducting this work in very approachable and friendly teams at each law firm.

What I like least

During my time at the firms there was sometimes photocopying to do but as you are mostly involved in client work or are copying documents to enable you to understand a deal, this is actually often a good thing.

What surprised me most

What I found most surprising was the amount of real responsibility and client involvement I was given.

Next steps...

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