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Vacation scheme insider

Tamer Tayyareci

Tamer Tayyareci


Summer 2022




University of Birmingham

What did a day on the vacation scheme look like?

I’d arrive at the office at around 9-9:30am and look over my timetable for the day. I’d then have time to get task briefs from my supervisor and have a general catch-up on how the scheme was going. Following this, we’d often attend a talk about one of Macfarlanes’ key practice areas or about one of the firm’s support networks (eg, the Race Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (REACH) network or Disability and Wellbeing (DAWN) network).

After planned talks, we had time to complete any assigned tasks; these were either from your supervisor or delegated by other colleagues. The tasks vary between different practice areas – for example, in corporate my tasks focused on amending documents, whereas in private client my tasks were research-based.

You’re also put into a group for a simulated commercial contract negotiation that takes place across the scheme. It involved meeting with your group and a dedicated trainee ‘client’ to discuss specific parts of the task. Your trainee ‘client’ would then provide negotiation advice and feedback on your approach.

Macfarlanes also hosted socials throughout the scheme, which offered opportunities to network with other vac schemers and people across the firm.

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

I most enjoyed the simulated negotiation because I was able to develop my negotiation and teamwork skills. It was fun to negotiate with people on the scheme – it definitely encouraged some friendly competition!

The assessments on the scheme were inevitably challenging as you have to perform under pressure.

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

It was important for me to learn that Macfarlanes encourages collaboration and development at all levels of the firm.

I attended team meetings and department knowledge-sharing sessions where trainees, associates, and partners would contribute to different legal strategies and learn from one another. It was encouraging to see how valued trainee input is.

I saw this in practice again whenever I discussed my delegated tasks with my supervisors and associates. They were invested in providing constructive feedback and insights into the wider impact of my work. They were also interested in my development and were keen to work with me, which made me confident that Macfarlanes’ work culture was one I wanted to be a part of.  

What key skills are required to have a successful experience on the vacation scheme?

Attention to detail is key to making a good impression. Although there’s time pressure with the tasks you complete, some mistakes are entirely avoidable if you have a keen eye for detail. Good work will inevitably leave a better impression of you on the scheme, so hone in on this to avoid easy mistakes.   

Your ability to network is also a key skill. It was through networking that I learnt a lot about Macfarlanes and the legal industry more broadly. It also meant people at the firm got to know me, which allowed them to offer more personally tailored advice and support throughout the scheme. 

What’s one piece of advice you’d pass on to future vacation schemers?

Try not to get too heavily caught up in the training contract prospect. It’s much easier said than done, but constantly thinking about the training contract will only serve as a distraction while on the scheme. Focus on the current tasks and look forward to exploring the firm and getting to know your fellow vac schemers. Overall, the vac scheme is an enjoyable experience – and if you focus, work hard and try to enjoy yourself, you’ll get the most out of it.