University of Nottingham
What did you do while on the vacation scheme?
I sat in the planning department in Gateley’s Birmingham office for the full two-week scheme. Most of my time was split between work from the team and a number of presentations by departments across the firm. Even though I was in the same seat for the two weeks, I came away with a strong idea of the kind of work that Gateley does and the clients it works for. My day-to-day departmental work included a number of research-based tasks on specific points of law for members of the team, other departments and offices around the UK, and for clients. I drafted reports, advisory memos, case analyses and an article for publication. I was also involved in drafting deeds of variation. It was great to be invited to client meetings right from the start. On one occasion, I was invited to a Gateley Academy seminar for clients. There were a number of social events throughout the scheme. We were taken out for dinners and an activity by trainees and on the last day HR took the whole cohort for a ‘farewell lunch’.
What did you feel that you gained from the placement?
A great insight into what working at Gateley would be like - you can only learn so much from the recruitment literature. The people were friendly and welcoming, and were happy to answer any questions I had about their work, careers and the firm. It was clear that everyone cares a great deal about their work and the firm’s clients.
Which were the most enjoyable - and most challenging - aspects of the scheme?
The client meetings that I was lucky enough to be invited to sit in on were a real highlight. I was given client work to do throughout the scheme, but it was completely different seeing things play out right in front of me. It allowed me to put the work I was doing into context. The most challenging part of the scheme was getting to grips with planning law. It was an area of law that was completely new to me, so there was a steep learning curve, but I ended up really enjoying the work.
Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?
Gateley recruits all its trainees through the vacation scheme, so there were a couple of formal assessments. The first was an individual presentation on a topic of our choice that we had to prepare and then give to a panel of partners. The second was an interview with two partners. There were some standardised questions, but for the most part we discussed my experiences throughout the scheme.
Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?
A vacation scheme is an opportunity to learn as much about the firm as possible. At the end of the scheme, you should be in a position to judge whether the firm is going to be a good fit for you. Be enthusiastic, take any opportunity to talk to people about their experiences and don’t be afraid to ask questions. On the last day a couple of trainees invited me to dinner to share their advice and answer more questions.