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- When: Winter 2016
- Subject: Mathematics
- University: Imperial College London
What did you do while on the vacation scheme?
Most of my time was spent at my seat which was in the banking practice of the firm. It was a busy period for the group which meant that there was no shortage of tasks I could help out with, despite my limited knowledge of the law. I reviewed contracts and updated documents as part of a due diligence for a deal, as well as researched and summarised particular areas of law. The graduate recruitment team organised a range of networking events, allowing us to meet people from different practice areas, at all levels within the firm. On the first day, we had a lovely lunch with the trainees, as well as a Q&A session with the managing partner.
What did you feel that you gained from the placement?
This experience offered a fascinating glimpse into the fast-paced work environment of an international commercial law firm. After the scheme, I felt I had a much better understanding of the type of work a lawyer performs and how they manage responsibilities. I was also able to appreciate the importance of the collective effort required to close a deal or complete a case.
It was the best way to understand the culture at A&O: it’s clear that everyone works really hard and despite the pressures that can come with tight deadlines, people enjoy their work. You are working alongside an amazing set of people who derive a lot of satisfaction from what they do. They are all at the top of their profession too, so you learn an incredible amount just by sitting with them.
Which were the most enjoyable – and most challenging – aspects of the scheme?
It was a pleasure getting to know the other people on the scheme; I felt part of a very friendly, diverse and capable group. I really enjoyed working with them on the team tasks, which got me excited at the prospect of working together as trainees at the firm.
Coming from a non-law background, it was a challenge adjusting to the nature of the tasks that I had been assigned - maths is a stark contrast to law! But with the guidance and reassurances of the trainees and my supervisor, I became more confident as the week went on, and soon relished the fact I was making real contributions, however small, to the live deals that were going through.
Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?
There was no training contract interview at the end of the scheme; but we completed two tasks during the week, and there was a lot of emphasis on personal development. I know that the graduate recruitment team asked my supervisor for detailed feedback, so instead of completing the same interview I did to get on the scheme, the focus was on my performance during the week.
Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?
I would definitely encourage you to talk to as many different people as possible within the firm and ask plenty of questions! Everyone I met was kind, helpful, and happy to share their experiences of working at the firm. The trainees and the graduate recruitment team were great at putting you in touch with other people, so that you can meet up for a quick coffee and a chat. It gave me invaluable insight into the firm, the work they do and the culture, which you just can’t get from a brochure or website.
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