Law with French law
University College of London
What did you do while on the vacation scheme?
The two-week scheme offered a variety of experiences ranging from organised sessions, including a negotiation workshop and a business pitch exercise, to live client work.
For the business presentation, we worked in teams to pitch prospective clients for the firm to a panel of lawyers. It was great to have a project to work on as a group and think differently about the firm. There were also networking events and socials, including a tour of the local area and Inns of Court.
Aside from that, we spent time working on live client matters and workbank tasks. Jones Day’s non-rotational training contract was reflected in the vacation scheme; it was up to the vac schemers to walk the floors and approach lawyers to find work. There was a massive spectrum in terms of the nature of work and the practice areas I was involved with, from researching memos to drafting documents and letters.
What did you feel that you gained from the placement?
I gained confidence in myself and my ability to manage time and find work. It was daunting at first to approach partners but it’s all part of the non-rotational system – they’re expecting it because the firm functions on this model. All the lawyers I interacted with, from trainees to partners, clearly wanted to hear from me, provided useful feedback and were supportive. Over the two weeks I felt increasingly confident to knock on doors to express my interest and pick up work. Overall, I left with a real understanding of how the non-rotational system works, and the knowledge that it suits me.
Which were the most enjoyable – and most challenging – aspects of the scheme?
Getting to grips with time management and balancing work was the most challenging aspect. For example, on one of the days we had activities in the morning and were then given the chance to walk the floors in the afternoon – I ended up taking on quite a few different tasks at once, so I had to plan my time effectively. With the non-rotational system, you have lots of freedom, so we had to independently balance how much we wanted to take on with the necessity of sticking to reasonable deadlines.
The most enjoyable aspect was getting to do real client work and get into the flow. It was exciting to have full afternoons working on live matters at your desk or in meetings. It was also a great feeling when some of my contributions made their way directly back to the client.
Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?
The vacation scheme doesn’t end with an interview because the firm is assessing you throughout the vacation scheme. That’s not to say you’re always under a microscope; instead, they speak to people you worked with during the scheme and look at your performance across all the work and exercises. They take all of this into account when considering training contract places.
What do you wish you had known before starting the vacation scheme that you now know?
I wish I’d known that walking the floors would be so organic because I was nervous about this aspect of the scheme. If you know the people at the firm are ready for you and are expecting to hear from you, it helps to put you at ease. They’re likely to have already thought about what work to give you before you approach them.