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Vacation scheme insider

Ella Carmichael

Ella Carmichael


Spring 2023




Durham University

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

The most enjoyable aspects of the vacation scheme were getting to know everyone and being immersed in the work that the firm’s lawyers do. Spending time at Jones Day enabled me to pick up on the firm’s unique aspects and I genuinely felt like I was part of the firm, even though I was only there for the two-week scheme.

Balancing live, client work with pre-set tasks was the most challenging aspect. At Jones Day, you’re responsible for managing your own workload but there’s lots of support from supervisors and trainee buddies. It’s a chance for you to put your organisation and time management skills to the test to ensure you complete the tasks within the given deadlines. This means it’s a realistic insight into the non-rotational system where trainees manage their own workflow.

What did a day on the vacation scheme look like?

I’d arrive at the office around 9am (after visiting Pret!), look over my to-do list from the previous day and check my emails. The firm treats vac schemers as though they’re trainees, so when working on live matters, you have to meet that deadline. The non-rotational training contract encourages you to get involved in a broad range of practice areas and tasks.

 During my time at Jones Day, I:

  • worked in various departments, including corporate, global disputes, employment and financial markets;
  • assisted with live tasks, which involved memo drafting and legal research;
  • sat in on client calls and took notes; and
  • completed the pre-set tasks, such as a litigation exercise and corporate review.

On top of the general work, there was a negotiation workshop and presentations from various practice areas. The days were very varied. Across the two weeks, the firm also hosted socials, which were a great chance to network with the firm’s lawyers, as well as other vac schemers.

What’s the most important thing you learnt about the firm while on the scheme?

The firm has such a collegiate atmosphere. It felt as though most people knew each other, even across departments, and there was a genuine, supportive feel to the firm. Everyone was willing to help out and you could tell that all the lawyers enjoyed working there.

What key skills did you develop during the scheme?

I definitely learned to manage my own time. It was also important to be adaptable and switch your thinking between different practices and pieces of work. For example, you might be working on a corporate document review in the morning before moving onto a summary of a Competition Market Authority study.

Looking back, what advice do you wish you’d received before starting your vacation scheme?

Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Even if you think a certain area won’t suit you, you won’t know for sure until you experience it, so knock on as many doors as possible, while making sure you have the capacity to take on the work. 

How can future candidates make their vacation scheme application successful?

Identify what Jones Day’s unique selling point is. It’s then important to demonstrate this understanding in your cover letter. Consider why you’re interested in the non-rotational training contract; the firm looks for candidates who’ll thrive in this training structure, so the cover letter must outline the skills you think you’d need to succeed in this environment – it should also be concise and demonstrate why you’d make a good commercial lawyer.

For those that get through to the interview, relax and be yourself. The interviewers want to get to know you and understand why you want to be a lawyer at Jones Day.