Sep 28, 2023

Written By Zara Arif

10 Secrets About Vacation Schemes They Don’t Want You to Know

Sep 28, 2023

Written By Zara Arif

Vacation schemes are a key step towards a legal career. They provide firsthand experience in a law firm and allow you to start building your professional network as well as presenting an opportunity to obtain a coveted training contract. This article will reveal ten insider secrets to help you succeed in your vacation scheme applications.

The Application Process

In order to make your application stand out it is important to tailor your submissions to the firm and to always link back your reasoning with your own experiences, skills and interests that may align with a firm’s values and practice areas. 

The Power of Networking

Networking and referrals play an important role in securing vacation scheme opportunities. Reaching out to lawyers, attending legal events and building connections can open doors to vacation schemes. 

During a vacation scheme it is crucial to network with other employees such as graduate recruitment, partners and fellow vacation schemes. Building relationships can lead to mentorship, guidance and potentially future employment.

Networking works best when you stay in touch with contacts you have made. Maintaining relationships can lead to valuable recommendations or referrals.

The Myth of Perfection

It is not true that only candidates with impeccable academic records are accepted into vacation schemes. Whilst academics are important, qualities like passion for law, resilience, and determination are equally so. 

Do not be discouraged by setbacks in your academic history, many firms take mitigating factors into account and utilise contextual recruitment. 

Selection Criteria

Firms evaluate candidates based on a combination of academic performance, skills and cultural fit. A well-rounded applicant who can demonstrate teamwork, communication and adaptability is highly desirable. 

Many vacation schemes are subject to competency-based interviews. The best way to approach this type of interview is to use the STAR method. This means breaking your answers into Situation, Task, Action and Result. You can use this method to talk about everything from a position of responsibility in a university society to a retail job in order to highlight that you can work in a team or under pressure.

Commercial Awareness

Commercial awareness means keeping up to date and engaged with current affairs and market trends. It is important to demonstrate this in interviews to show that you can analyse the markets which clients operate in. 

There are many ways to build your awareness but the most engaging might include joining university societies, discussion groups or listening to podcasts by the BBC or FT. 


Life During the Scheme

A day on a vacation scheme can be very varied. You may have organised talks and set tasks to get through but also activities such as research, client meetings and collaboration with your team. 

A vacation scheme is a unique chance to access firm culture and to determine if it aligns with your own values and career goals. You should make the most of engaging with firm-wide events and ask engaged questions to gauge the cultural fit. 

A vacation scheme is what you make of it. It is important to be proactive in seeking out tasks and take ownership of your work and ask for feedback. You often have the chance to work on real cases, so make the most of it! 

Vacation Scheme Perks

A vacation scheme is a chance to enhance your professional growth. It will be a time full of uncommon perks and experiences such as invitations to client meetings, exposure to high-profile cases and access to exclusive firm events. 

Participation in these kinds of experiences gives candidates an edge in future legal applications. A vacation scheme can set you apart from others and demonstrate a deep commitment to a legal career. 

It is also important to note that many firms only offer training contracts to their vacation schemers. 

Learning experiences

It is a time where you may learn unexpected lessons and go through a lot of personal growth as you will be meeting and working with new people under pressure. You may be faced with challenges and tight deadlines that prompt you to show resilience and adaptability in order to come out on the other side. 

These could include instances where vacation schemers faced challenges and overcame them, showcasing resilience and adaptability. 

During the scheme, make sure to create a log of your achievements, feedback, completed tasks and contributions to group work so that this can be used in interviews and future applications.

Navigating post-scheme interviews

When doing a post-scheme interview, it is vital to capitalise on the experience gained during the scheme. Take some time to reflect on your achievements, setbacks and skills that you developed. 

You should aim to highlight specific experiences and interactions with employees which demonstrate that you understand the firm’s culture and values. 

Addressing the Challenges

Vacation schemes can be competitive and demanding. You must be prepared for the possibility of rejection and not be discouraged by setbacks as ultimately it is all a learning experience, regardless of the outcome.

Each application and interview provides valuable experience for future success. It is also a good idea to ask careers advisors and legal professionals to see if they can take a look at your application to see where you can improve. 

Conclusion: Unlocking the Secrets 

The main secret of a vacation scheme is your mindset whilst applying and also during the scheme. It is key to show your best self whilst also being proactive in asking for work and networking so that you can get to know the firm. 

Armed with these insider insights, you can approach vacation schemes with confidence and maximise your chances of success. You will be sure to succeed if you apply the tips mentioned above in your future applications and legal careers. 


Vacation Scheme