University of Oxford
What did you do while on the vacation scheme?
The scheme included so much for a two-day placement. There was an introductory talk from the managing partner, Liz Cohen, followed by workshops on the firm’s different work areas including competition law, real estate and intellectual property (IP). For example, the IP team took us through a patent litigation and how to examine and compare prior art – the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and understand how the lawyers worked was really valuable, particularly as a non-law student. As well as workshopping the practice areas, there was a talk and pitch-making exercise with the marketing and business development team, which provided a great insight into a side of the business and the role at partner level that I had not known much about. The speed networking event was a great opportunity to talk to NQs and associates, particularly as most of my conversations at law fairs and other events had been with trainees or partners, so it was interesting to learn about the responsibilities at mid-level. I also met people from the marketing and IT teams, so it was a great introduction to the whole firm.
What did you feel that you gained from the placement?
I had been seriously considering Bristows for a while, having previously attended a STEM open day, and I applied to the firm because I was thinking about my whole career, not just the training contract. The vacation scheme confirmed the type of law that I wanted to go into and that this was the kind of workplace that I would be happy in. It was also valuable to gain an insight into what makes Bristows a bit different to other firms, such as how the IP practice is structured between teams.
Which were the most enjoyable - and most challenging - aspects of the scheme?
Group work and speaking up to ask questions were quite challenging because everyone is trying to impress and you don’t want to say the wrong thing, but if you are willing to ask questions and probe the issues, you get so much out of the experience. The scheme was my first opportunity to tackle legal issues, so the workshops were my highlight.
Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?
At the end of the scheme we were asked to write a letter to the HR team if we were interested in a training contract at Bristows. I wrote the letter over the winter holidays and was invited to attend an interview in January. If this stage goes well, you are then invited to a second-round interview with two partners, which is slightly more daunting but I was already put at ease, having met both my interviewers at a lunch during the scheme.
Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?
Write down everything – people’s names, their roles in the firm and their information, advice and insights. This will help you to internalise everything you learn and builds up a bank of notes that you can use to refresh your memory before an interview.