What do you do on a vacation scheme?
A vacation scheme typically takes place during the winter, spring or summer of your second year, although the majority take place in the Summer. It gives you a chance to experience what life is like as a solicitor. While they are not mandatory for a law career, they can help you decide what kind of firm you would like to work in and whether law is the right choice for you.
What does a typical day involve?
A typical day on a vacation scheme depends on where you are working. Larger firms may have less responsibility, however small ones may involve a fair bit of work due to the small workforce. Some firms have a heavily structured day: involving meetings with senior partners and advisors, group talks about some of the firm’s work and social gatherings so you can get to know everyone. Others involve being under the guidance of a mentor, who teaches you about their role and may let you assist them with tasks. A few may ask you to be proactive and seek out your own work by knocking on the doors of senior partners and asking them if they need assistance.
Life outside of work
One large part of a vacation scheme is the social aspect, with several firms organising dinners or drinks for the new recruits. Though you may think these are unnecessary, they are the perfect opportunity for you to get to know your fellow interns as well as the more senior members of the team. There are a few firms which exclusively recruit applicants for training contracts from their vacation schemes, so if you make a good impression your training contract application may be looked upon favourably. Even if you don’t drink, these events are the perfect opportunity for you to network and form connections that may be invaluable in the future.
How will my performance be assessed?
Given that many firms recruit candidates from their vacation schemes, companies often use the scheme to find candidates that would be suitable for a training contract. You probably won’t be given written exams like university, but rather several practical tasks. Trainees may have to make notes during a meeting with a client or research a particular topic. Many interns have to get involved in team building exercises, to test their teamwork skills. No matter how small the task may be, it’s important to pay close attention to detail. Forgetting to complete a task or making spelling mistakes suggests to the firm that you don’t particularly care about the work you’re doing.
What happens if you don’t get a vacation scheme?
If you don’t get accepted onto any of the schemes or you missed the deadline, try not to worry. There are still plenty of opportunities for you to learn about law. Make sure you’re part of your university’s law society and pro-bono society if they have one. Perhaps you can see if you can find some voluntary work to get some experience, or find a lawyer you can shadow. When you’re applying for training contracts in the future, the firm will see that you were proactive and persevered.
The two weeks of your vacation scheme will be intense but rewarding. It’s a chance for you to experience life as a lawyer first hand and make connections that may be useful in later life.