What do I need to do to secure a vacation scheme?
Vacation schemes are half the battle to securing a training contract. In some cases, if you want to become a trainee solicitor at a particular law firm, they are the only way to secure the job.
Therefore, securing a vacation scheme is hugely important for an aspiring solicitor. Not essential, but hugely important. What does a student need to do in order to secure a vacation scheme?
To secure a vacation scheme, first you need to apply, and applying for a vacation scheme is not something to be treated lightly. It requires considerable effort and planning.
The first thing you need to know is the application deadline: this is generally around 31st January every year, but some firms may close their deadlines earlier or later. You also need to find out if law firms recruit on a rolling basis or consider all applications when the deadline passes. If the firm recruits on a rolling basis, this means that they close applications once they have seen 30 applications that meet their requirements for the 30 places that they have available.
You should also apply for a vacation scheme at no more than ten firms. Quality is always better than quantity, and make sure to tailor your application to each firm.
Finally, understand the application process and what is required of you at each stage, firms may send you some psychometric tests to complete and you may also be invited to attend an assessment centre.
Develop commercial awareness
To secure a vacation scheme, you need to understand the role of a trainee solicitor and the services that a commercial law firm provides to its clients.
Commercial awareness isn’t like a light switch that can be turned on and off. Rather, you need to treat developing your commercial awareness like brushing your teeth – something to do every day without fail.
Our top tip for developing your commercial awareness is to take a hobby, social media for example, and work out the legal challenges businesses involved in that sector face. Facebook may need legal advice on tax regulations in countries where they operate. Corporate social media clients (e.g. sports teams) might have contracts to fulfil that provide sponsors with certain exposure on their social media channels. This small initial consideration can go a long way to developing your commercial awareness.
Showcase skills & interests
Law firms are looking for students who have the skills and desire to succeed on a vacation scheme. Make sure that you highlight the skills you have acquired in your studies and work experience in your application.
Trainee solicitors are required to have good attention to detail and need to be able to summarise complex information succinctly. On top of this, they need to be able to analyse issues and provide a professional service. Show firms how you have displayed these behaviours previously in your vacation scheme application.
Expand work experience
To secure a vacation scheme, you should work to expand your work experience. This doesn’t just relate to legal work experience either, although undertaking pro bono work at your university is highly recommended.
Working part-time in a shop or restaurant can still provide exposure to legal considerations. What does a restaurant owner have to consider when it comes to food allergies? What challenges do supermarkets face in the supply chain? What impact does e-commerce have on the high street? All of these questions show how you can take a part-time job and utilise it in your vacation scheme applications.
Apply for a vacation scheme
Now that you know what you need to do to secure a vacation scheme, apply for some here!