Queen Mary, University of London
What did you do while on the virtual vacation scheme?
The firm used a platform called HighQ Collaborate, designed to mirror an on-site interactive experience. For instance, alongside an instant messaging service to reach out to staff across the firm, we could post threads on a virtual noticeboard to start conversations with peers and staff. This minimised the differences between a virtual and in-person vacation scheme.
The scheme lasted two weeks. We attended different presentations given by various teams. Practice area talks were followed by case studies which gave us the opportunity to understand the work in practice. Other presentations included the firm’s work on inclusion and corporate, social responsibility (CSR), innovation and legal technology.
I was allocated two weeklong seats in the corporate and M&A, and tax and reward groups. For each seat, I was assigned a trainee supervisor. They offered me an invaluable insight into the firm and explained the tasks for the practice areas. Throughout each seat, I completed mock tasks which were modelled on real trainee responsibilities. For instance, I was asked to prepare advice surrounding the completion of an acquisition, as well as complete stock transfer forms and stamp duty applications to HMRC. These were technically challenging yet enjoyable.
Alongside this, we worked on a mock negotiation transaction. In two teams, we had to negotiate the terms of a contract for a sponsorship agreement. Near the end of the scheme, we had a final showdown where graduate recruitment and the two partners overseeing the scheme joined us for our final negotiation. This was enthralling and allowed us to network with our cohort on a more personal basis.
I also enjoyed taking part in virtual socials, including an escape room and a game of Family Feuds!
What did you feel that you gained from the placement?
Despite the online setting, I gained an invaluable insight into the firm’s culture and working environment. We had plenty of opportunity to network with a range of people across different levels at the firm. Everyone was friendly and willing to answer our questions. This is a reflection of the firm’s culture and affirmed that it is somewhere I would love to work.
Further, the tasks were quite challenging. So, alongside gaining a better understanding of what role trainees have in different practice areas, I acquired some technical knowledge in areas of tax and M&A, which was interesting and took me by surprise!
Which were the most enjoyable - and most challenging - aspects of the virtual scheme?
I particularly enjoyed the catch-ups and feedback sessions with my trainee supervisors. They were both friendly, welcoming and went through my tasks in detail. They also gave me tips on how to make the most of the scheme.
I also enjoyed the inclusion and CSR talk; this is something close to my heart and to hear that the firm is pioneering in various projects was inspiring and encouraging.
Balancing my time and staying on top of my tasks and other commitments was the most challenging aspect.
Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?
At the end we were assessed for the training programme. We completed a written task, alongside a commercial in-tray exercise and a partner interview. Graduate recruitment gave us plenty of opportunity to ask any questions we had regarding the assessments.
Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?
Make the most of the opportunities you are given and remain engaged and attentive throughout. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – nerves can be high as it is a new setting, so remind yourself of how well you have done to earn a spot on the scheme and focus on doing the best you can!