Vacation schemes: choosing a law firm
Vacation schemes are half the battle to landing a training contract. They are work placements at a law firm that provide you with exposure to the type of work you will undertake as a trainee solicitor.
There are lots of law firms out there, and it’s sometimes hard to cut through the noise and choose the firms you want to apply to. There are a number of factors you should consider when you choose law firms to apply to, and we’ll go into more detail below.
Practice areas & type of work
First and foremost, you should apply for vacation schemes at firms that specialise in practice areas that interest you. If you want to be a lawyer that advises banks and financial institutions, you should be applying to firms with a strong practice in that sector. Similarly, if you want to be a sports lawyer, or at least gain some experience and exposure to sports law, there’s no use applying to a firm that doesn’t have any clients in that sector.
Using firm’s websites to find out the matters they have been working on recently is a great place to start finding out the practice areas they specialise in. For example, Bristows has three specific pages on their website that investigate technology, life sciences, and competition law and intellectual property. Additionally, Herbert Smith Freehills allows you to search for updates from each of their offices on particular practice areas.
You should also be reading the business news in publications such as The Economist and the Financial Times to keep abreast of how law firms are interacting with the latest business developments.
As you would expect, a lot of internationally focussed law firms will have an office in London, and there are a lot of vacation scheme opportunities in the capital. However, if you are looking for an experience closer to home or university, there are plenty of vacation scheme opportunities in other cities in the UK too. The transatlantic firm, Womble Bond Dickinson, for example, offer work placements in multiple offices across the UK.
Check out the regional hubs on AllAboutLaw.co.uk to find out which firms are located in each particular city.
All roads lead to a Training Contract
As mentioned at the start of the article, vacation schemes are half the battle to securing a training contract. They provide you with experience and help you realise which firm is (or isn’t) for you.
A developing trend in the legal graduate recruitment sector is firms using their vacation schemes as a means to assess who they provide with offers for training contracts. It makes sense when you think about it – firms can see how you perform in the real workplace, and you don’t need to worry about making an impression in an artificial environment; you can just be you!
Not every firm follows this approach, but if you manage to get a vacation scheme at a firm that does, it allows you to secure a training contract ahead of time and focus solely on excelling in your studies in your remaining years at university.
It’s not all about the money
Vacation schemes pay, and some pay handsomely. Whatever you do, don’t choose a law firm solely based on how much they pay.
Apply for a vacation scheme
Now that you know what to consider when choosing a law firm, why not apply for some vacation schemes?!