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The University of Sheffield
What did you do while on the vacation scheme?
I undertook a week-long virtual vacation scheme with Gateley’s Manchester office. Despite the remote setting, I was made to feel extremely welcomed from the first day.
The scheme was filled with challenging and stimulating activities. We were placed in a different department each day, which enabled us to gain an understanding of the various services in which Gateley specialises. Specifically, I spent a day with the corporate, restructuring and insolvency, banking and finance, and construction departments.
I was given set tasks on each day which related to the area I was working in. For example, I edited board minutes, registered a charge, drafted an advisory note to a client, and prepared a share purchase agreement. I attended unit overview talks with units such as the commercial dispute resolution, regulatory and business defence, tax and private client units. The speakers were all very informative and receptive to questions.
We were also placed into small groups to deliver a presentation on the final day about responsible business. This was a great opportunity to meet the other applicants to discuss where the firm excelled at responsible business practices, as well as areas where improvements could be made.
What did you feel that you gained from the placement?
Over the course of the week, I gained a greater insight into the areas Gateley specialises in, the culture, outreach work, and the expectations of a trainee solicitor working at the firm.
Furthermore, I was able to understand more about the Gateley group structure. It was fascinating to discover how the firm has diversified its offerings to further meet client needs. I also enjoyed learning about the importance that Gateley places on diversity and inclusion. It was very clear that this is an area in which the business is constantly striving to make advancements.
Which were the most enjoyable - and most challenging - aspects of the scheme?
The activities I most enjoyed were the unit overview talks. Coming from a non-law background, this was a great opportunity to find out more about legal areas I was previously unfamiliar with.
The organised social events in the evenings were very fun and included a virtual escape room and murder mystery. There was also an in-person social, which allowed me to meet the fellow vac schemers, as well as current trainees at the firm.
The most challenging part was meeting the deadlines for the tasks set each day. It was crucial to utilise my time-management skills to ensure the work was being completed to my best ability, alongside attending the various organised talks and events. Although this was demanding, it was an exciting insight into the job of a trainee solicitor.
Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?
There was a final training contract interview at the end of the week conducted by two partners. The questions focused on my motivational fit, situational judgement, competencies, and a reflection of my performance on the vacation scheme.
What do you wish you had known before starting the vacation scheme that you now know?
I’d advise others to relax and enjoy themselves throughout the process. It’s natural to be nervous, but the firm will be able to best assess you if you’re being yourself. It’s also important to remain focused during the week and reach out to as many people at the firm as possible, within reason. It’s a fantastic way to learn more in addition to the arranged timetable.