Interview with Anthony Cunningham, Vacation Scheme Student at Mayer Brown

Anthony has just completed his law degree at the University of Kent. He took part in Mayer Brown’s vacation scheme earlier this summer and will start at the firm in August 2020.

  • Last updated Oct 23, 2018 1:16:43 PM
  • By Anthony Cunningham, Vacation Scheme Student at Mayer Brown

What did you do while on the scheme?

The vacation scheme took place over two weeks. In the first week I was in the Banking and Finance department and this included lots of hands-on tasks such as creating transactional documents and drafting letters for a big mining project finance deal. I sat with the Litigation team for the second seat, with a focus on insurance. This involved conducting legal research and proofreading skeleton arguments. It was great to experience both the commercial and litigation side of law during the vacation scheme. There were various skill sessions throughout the placement and my favourite was about the law as a business. As a student we’re always told to focus on the transactional side of law firms, so it was interesting to hear from somebody in the firm’s business development department.

In terms of social events, it was a good experience to meet with the current trainees outside of the office during the weekly evening activities, and to see that they are all good friends. It shows how welcoming the firm is. We also visited the firm’s Paris office in the second week. 

What did you feel that you gained from the placement?

It was invaluable to experience the type of work that trainees do, from drafting and researching, to bundling. The amount of work made me realise just how important organisation is – you are given so many tasks, so it’s necessary to prioritise and manage your time effectively. Everybody tells you that it’s a lot of work, but you don’t realise until you’re actually doing it!

Which were the most enjoyable – and most challenging – aspects of the scheme?

The most challenging task I completed was during my second week where I researched how a certain article was used in international arbitration proceedings. I went through over 100 cases and summarised my findings into a one-page document to present to a senior associate. It was difficult because there was so much material to read through and some of it wasn’t in English, but it was certainly a great insight into the kinds of work I will be doing in the future. 

Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?

There was a short interview with two partners at the end of the second week, but it was much more of an informal chat. The process stood the firm apart from others as it was less about whether I was good enough, and more about how I enjoyed my time at the firm and the work I had completed.

Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?

My advice would be to remember that although you will be interacting with successful and inspirational lawyers during the scheme, you shouldn’t forget that they are human beings too. I spent the first week being too nervous to knock on a partner’s door but soon realised that the more you talk to them, the better insight you will get into the firm and the more varied and interesting work you will receive.

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