How are virtual vacation schemes different?
As law firms have adapted to the social distancing regulations put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, many firms have turned to virtual vacation schemes as a means of providing law students with the insight and foot in the door they’ll need as they look ahead to the start of their career.
These schemes are undoubtedly different from regular vacation schemes as a result of their remote nature, but firms have sought to replicate the on-site experience as best as possible through an online alternative.
In what ways is the content different?
There are various ways in which virtual vacation schemes can differ in the knowledge and skills they develop. In some cases, firms have set up online courses, lasting a few days at most, which take you through some tasks outlining the various aspects of working in that company.
Others may opt for a scheme that sees you become a part of the team and work on real-life projects, just as you would with a normal vacation scheme. This would involve liaising online with colleagues and your supervisor as you get a taste of the different practice areas of a particular firm.
As a result, you will be immersing yourself in the experience of working from home, making frequent use of conference calling software, online workspaces and collaborating on documents. Rather than being able to physically move between different departments, you will have less points of contact so it’ll be important that you make sure you get as involved as possible so you can make the most of the experience and develop the skills that you’ll need ahead of a career as a solicitor.
For instance, you might be led to take part in group activities and discussions, mock client pitches as well as virtual socials.
Do they last as long as vacation schemes?
In many cases, firms have shortened the length of the work experience they offer in order to accommodate for the difficulties of carrying out a placement from home. This means that some schemes may have been shortened from two or three weeks to just one, for example, but retained the same amount of pay.
Is the application process any different?
In the case of schemes which are run via online modules, you’ll need to register on the company’s website or on the online platform on which the course is being delivered.
In other instances, the schemes will have been offered to those who already had in-office placements scheduled, with the opportunities moving to a format that allows the experience to be carried out by working from home.
Nevertheless, these will also be advertised on legal firms’ websites so it’s worth getting in contact with them to see if there are any places left. It’s also a good idea to research which firms do offer such schemes in order to apply for one later on in a practice area that you’re interested in.
Will doing one give me the same opportunities as normal vacation schemes?
Yes - many firms have confirmed that, just as with their regular placements, those who complete virtual vacation schemes with them will be considered for training contracts down the line.
This means that you should consider virtual vacation schemes as an essential part of your law training, as they will allow you to get a foot in the door and gain hands-on experience. In addition, being able to show that you can adapt to an online environment to carry out your work will be an impressive skill to put on your CV when it comes to applying for graduate schemes in law.
Virtual Vacation Schemes