University of Birmingham
What did you do while on the vacation scheme?
Our week was jam-packed! I was in a different department daily, which gave me a broad overview of the type of work the firm is involved in. I worked in the corporate, banking and finance, restructuring and insolvency, and construction units.
I drafted a sale and purchase agreement (SPA), board minutes, an advisory note on collateral warranties and third-party rights, a letter before action, and a licence to occupy. I also reviewed a letter of intent, the statutory books of a company and registered a charge.
I attended unit overview talks with the commercial dispute resolution, regulatory and business defence, tax, intellectual property, commerce and technology, employment, pensions, private client, residential development, and real estate dispute resolution departments. I emailed the speakers and was delighted that most responded to organise a follow-up call.
What did you feel that you gained from the placement?
The talk with the trainees helped me to understand how invested the firm is in developing its talent as the firm supported its trainees before and during their training contract. Trainees were also given opportunities to undertake a client secondment, despite the limitations of covid-19.
In addition, I learnt the extent of the firm’s commitment to the wider community. Before the vacation scheme, I was aware that each office made donations to a local charity. I also learnt that the firm was committed to supporting small businesses through its collaboration with STEAMhouse incubator. As a native of Birmingham, I was drawn to Gateley’s dedication to developing the city both commercially and socially.
Which were the most enjoyable - and most challenging - aspects of the scheme?
The collegiate culture was undeniable. During the virtual vacation scheme, the inviting atmosphere was felt through the screen. I felt welcomed by every member of the firm.
The most challenging aspect was completing the work to deadlines. Each day, we were given a task to complete by the end of the day, but throughout the day we had numerous talks to attend. I remained organised to complete all the designated work on time. It gave me a taster of what life as a trainee would be like, which was exhilarating.
Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?
The scheme ended with a training contract interview, where I was asked a mixture of firm-specific, commercial awareness, competency and situational interview questions.
Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I can be shy at times, however, I was determined to make a good impression, so I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone. After each talk, I emailed the speaker(s) to get a better understanding of each department and enquired about a follow-up call. Not everyone said yes but I took the opportunity to ask as many questions as possible to those who were available.
The more people I spoke to, the better I understood the firm and the more comfortable I became talking to others. If you really want something, you must go out of your way to get it.