I completed a vacation scheme at the London office of Taylor Wessing in 2011. This was a summer scheme which lasted for two weeks, and during which time allowed me to experience working in different departments within the firm, as well as being given the chance to attend social and networking opportunities.
Although it was always my desire to work at Taylor Wessing’s London office, it was important for me when applying for a vacation scheme, and ultimately a training contract, that the firm was international. For me, this included not simply physical offices in any one area, but jurisdictional expertise and connections with other practising foreign law firms. I felt that this signalled the opportunity for growth but also showed that the firm was keen to expand organically, rather than through a controlled and formulaic method of mergers with foreign firms, which can often result in fundamental characteristics and values being lost.
I first found out about Taylor Wessing when I took part in the firm's 'Commercial Challenge' in 2010, but I was able to enquire more about vacations schemes at the firm by attending the law fair held at my university. I built on this information by researching the firm using both their website, and various legal publications. This cemented my enthusiasm to apply for a vacation scheme at Taylor Wessing.
After submitting my application to the firm, I was invited to attend an assessment morning. This was a two-limbed process, which involved interviewing with a partner of the firm and a HR associate and also taking part in a group exercise with three other candidates. I found the process challenging but fair, and was hugely grateful to then receive a chance to attend one of the three vacation schemes held by Taylor Wessing.
Before starting my vacation scheme I was invited to make a preferential selection of the departments I wished to sit in during my two week stint. These were then notified to me when I started. I was given my own desk and computer for each week, and also buddied up with a trainee whom I found to be very helpful and friendly. The type of work I was given covered a wide-variety of topics, including researching and drafting, and of course, a slight bit of unavoidable administrative work!
During the two week scheme I was encouraged to participate in as many departmental and firm-wide events as possible, including both work related and social events. This ranged from 'know-how' discussions, to external talks, to drinks with trainees, associates and partners. This was invaluable, as it gave me not just an idea of the type of work that law firms generally do, but also helped me to get to know the attitude and ethos of Taylor Wessing itself. I subsequently discovered from further vacation schemes at other firms that this is a hugely important criteria if indeed you decide to apply for a training contract. For me, Taylor Wessing was the perfect fit.
My most memorable experience of the vacation scheme, although strictly speaking came after the scheme finished, were the drinks on the final Friday afternoon! This took place with other vacation schemers, and together we reflected on the two weeks which we had successfully managed to navigate, and most importantly, how much we had enjoyed our time at Taylor Wessing. This memory sticks with me, as the fact that I am still friends with a number of those individuals shows to me that Taylor Wessing chooses its candidates not simply based on pure academics, but also on personality, and how well someone would fit into the firm. The result is that everyone gets on fantastically, something which has further been proved over the course of my training contract.
I would highly recommend a vacation scheme with an international firm to another student, even if such a scheme takes place in the UK. Vacation schemes with international firms provide great experience, and brilliant opportunities for learning from those with a vast array of knowledge and expertise in their particular fields.
My advice to any student wanting to do a vacation scheme would be this: it does not always matter if you do not have the correct answer to everything, be this in an interview or on the scheme itself. It is more important to show that you have listened to what has been asked of you, thought through it in a sensible way and come to a reasoned conclusion. Most importantly, be enthusiastic and positive, traits that might seem simple, but will a go a long way indeed.