University of Reading
What did you do while on the vacation scheme?
Over the two weeks I mainly worked with the corporate department, with additional tasks from a variety of departments, including the residential development, commercial and family teams.
I did my vacation scheme in the Reading office, which has different departments to some of the bigger offices, so the firm arranged a series of talks to enable us to interact with all the departments on offer.
What did you feel that you gained from the placement?
I developed several legal skills such as working with legal documents and using legal search engines, which I hadn’t encountered before. I had to fill in the standard documents using information provided by a client. This process helped me to understand what I should be looking for in a document that I would then use to write a contract, for example.
Organisation and time keeping were other skills I improved because I was receiving work from different departments. I also gained an insight into the firm, including the type of people it likes to hire and its culture.
Which were the most enjoyable - and most challenging - aspects of the scheme?
The most enjoyable aspect was the cultural element – I loved getting to know everyone. There was a social lunch with a mixture of partners, paralegals and future trainees, which was a nice opportunity to see how I would fit in at the firm.
In terms of work, we were assigned set trainee tasks to research and complete before talking them through with a partner who would provide feedback. I found it useful to know what I had done well and what aspects I needed to work on.
I went into the vacation scheme with only two months’ prior experience and no legal education – I hadn’t studied law formally. It was challenging not having as much knowledge as others who had already completed a law degree, the LPC or GDL. There were aspects that were perhaps obvious to other vacation schemers that I didn’t know too much about, but I just got stuck in and asked questions.
Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?
It ended with a pitch, which we were assigned on the first day and given two weeks to work on – the task was to pitch Gateley to a potential client – and a training contract interview.
The interview was slightly more relaxed than an ordinary interview might be because I had been working with the partners who interviewed me for two weeks. There were only two of us on the scheme and we each had a partner who was responsible for us – these two partners took both of our interviews. It was one of the nicest interviews I have ever attended.
Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?
It’s important to consider your transferrable skills. Think about jobs you have done – even if you don’t think they are relevant – and work out what skills you have gained from them, or even your degree, and apply them to your application and legal career.
Work hard and talk to people. Everyone is willing to answer any questions you might have and even advise you on how to perform well in your interview.