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Vacation scheme insider

Millie Smith

Millie Smith


June 2023




University of York

What work did you get involved with on the vacation scheme?

I attended Birketts’ Norwich vacation scheme, covering four seats over two weeks. In each seat, I was assigned to a trainee and partner who provided insights into their respective areas of practice. This facilitated an opportunity to ask questions.

I was placed in property litigation, employment, commercial litigation and corporate. In each team, I had the privilege of contributing to ongoing cases, witnessing first-hand how they navigate intricate legal challenges and find innovative solutions for their clients. Between meetings, I was provided with case scenarios, which served to enhance my research capabilities and practical application of the law. All teams were very supportive, setting time aside for in-depth discussions on tasks and furnishing constructive feedback.  

Birketts also hold a mock trial! This was initially daunting but, ultimately, a rewarding experience. It encourages the vacation schemers to step outside their comfort zones and showcase initiative.

Did the scheme end in a training contract interview?

The final day involved a meeting with two partners for an informal reflective discussion on the overall experience of the two-week vacation scheme. In my interview, we discussed the nature of the tasks to demonstrate my understanding, my highlights from each seat and the challenges encountered. The conversation served as a valuable mechanism for identifying areas of improvement and drawing on the vast knowledge and experience of Birketts’ senior partners.

This interview is also an opportunity for you to sell yourself. Share your thoughts on the firm and demonstrate why it’s the right choice for you.

What’s the most important thing you learnt about the firm while on the scheme?

Birketts demonstrates an unwavering commitment to its people. I was very impressed by the firm’s commitment to nurturing its talent, evidencing a genuine interest in the success of its employees. They want to see you succeed in everything you do, providing ample opportunities for professional and personal development. All team members were always ready to assist each other and share their knowledge so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Their collaborative ethos forms the foundation of the Birketts family. The mentorship I received during my vacation scheme served as a clear indication of the firm’s dedication to people development.

What key skills did you develop during the scheme?

Throughout the vacation scheme, I fostered many skills, with a particular emphasis on networking. Sustaining relationships is really important, and working in four teams allowed me to establish relationships with professionals across diverse practice areas. Fortunately, I remained on the same floor for the duration of the scheme. This facilitated daily interactions, allowing me to catch up with colleagues.

The firm arranged a lunch and an evening social with trainees early in the scheme. These events served as a perfect way to build confidence and make acquaintances, and they also allowed me to authentically demonstrate my genuine interest in the firm.

What’s one piece of advice you would pass on to future vacation schemers?

Be yourself. Talk, listen and engage. Birketts wants to see your true personality, work ethic and how you work. The vacation scheme is a two-way process, the firm is assessing whether you’d fit in the Birketts family but you’re also assessing whether you’d like a career there too. Approach the vacation scheme with initiative. It’ll help you to make meaningful connections but allows you to demonstrate your full potential, aligning with Birketts’ values.

Other than attending a vacation scheme, what’s the most relevant experience you’ve had that’s benefited your journey to becoming a lawyer?

Alongside university, I volunteered with Restorative Solutions as a practitioner. This involved mediating with those harmed by crime and those responsible for crime, with the goal of mitigating reoffending. Navigating delicate situations, where it’s important to gain people’s trust, highlights the significance of building trust and handling sensitive matters with care. Given the legal profession is client-facing, the skills I learnt through this experience have benefitted my journey to becoming a lawyer. Forming meaningful client relationships and leveraging expertise to reach agreements is integral to the journey of a lawyer.

I’d recommend volunteering whether legal related or not. It’s not only a great talking point in networking, but it also shows your commitment to the community and helping others.

I’ve also gained experience of the court system. I shadowed a North East circuit judge and have attended magistrates and crown court hearings to develop an insight of law in action.