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Vacation scheme insider

Melissa Montford

Melissa Montford


Spring 2018




Coventry University

What did you do while on the vacation scheme?

I spent my first week in the employment department and the second in financial services. The work was varied and exciting. While in employment for example, I worked on live client matters, some of which included drafting clauses for a company employee handbook, compiling a summary advice note and conducting legal research. With the help of my supervisor and reading relevant materials, I was able to understand technical concepts and assist a client on a Brexit-related project.

We attended presentations from the various practice groups, which was helpful to get a sense of the firm’s strategy and how the departments work with one another. To commemorate Women’s History Month, Dechert hosted an inspiring discussion with one of Britain’s greatest Paralympians, Tanni Grey-Thompson. The various social events were great as we were able to find out more about Dechert in an informal setting; my personal favourite was our night at Swingers Crazy Golf!

What did you feel that you gained from the placement?

The scheme presented an invaluable opportunity to immerse yourself into the firm. It was exceptionally well curated, designed to challenge us as well as give us scope to showcase our potential. I also gained an accurate depiction of the culture of the firm and what it would be like to train at Dechert.

Which were the most enjoyable – and most challenging – aspects of the scheme?

I was fortunate enough to attend a client meeting with an employment partner; he briefed me in advance and gave me materials to read, so that I would be able to understand the intricacies of the case. It was fascinating to watch the partner lead the meeting; I felt very trusted and enjoyed the face-to-face client interaction.

We were given a group presentation task, which we delivered in small groups to a panel at the end of the week. This was the most challenging part of the scheme as we had to get to know each other, learn each other’s different working styles and agree a plan of action simultaneously. It also tested our time management skills as we had to balance our preparation alongside our day-to-day workloads. 

Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?

At the start of the scheme, the graduate recruitment team outlined the ways in which we would be assessed during the two weeks, including supervisor feedback, individual performance during the group presentation, teamwork skills, as well as the overall quality of our work. We were also told that all Dechert employees have the opportunity to provide feedback on the vacation scheme students. I was offered a training contract on the final day of the scheme and I was truly overwhelmed – it was my dream job at my dream firm, so I was absolutely ecstatic!

Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?

Be the best version of yourself that you can be; the firm buys into you as an individual and they value personality. Also, use your time to get to know the people who work there and build relationships. Be inquisitive, proactive and get stuck in. You gain knowledge and useful skills that, irrespective of the outcome, will only contribute to your future success.