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Vacation scheme insider

Rhea Patel

Rhea Patel


July 2023




University College London

What work did you get involved with on the vacation scheme?

My week at Marriott Harrison was well-balanced between scheduled activities and space to interact with the team. The unscheduled time was a great opportunity to truly get a feel of what working at the firm would be like. I had an idea of what the vacation week would look like before starting, but it exceeded my expectations. On previous vacation schemes, I’d spent most of my time in a single practice area. At Marriott Harrison, we were given the freedom to explore areas we were interested in. Whenever I expressed an interest in a particular area of law to a trainee, they’d introduce me to a relevant associate or partner who gave me their attention and provided insightful and valuable information on the topic.

Our formal activities included a written M&A task, an interactive group debate exercise and, on our last day, we had to present on a subject of our choice to the firm. Outside of this, I also helped the corporate and commercial team on a few of their matters. Getting exposed to the work itself was fantastic and I feel I extracted a lot out of my week.

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

How everyone, regardless of experience level or role, has a part to play in the success of Marriott Harrison. The office itself is on a single floor, open plan and everyone hot desks. The layout of the office reinforces the flat structure the firm has created. From day one, all the summer vacation scheme candidates were encouraged to initiate conversations, demonstrate curiosity by asking questions, and be open in expressing our motivations and aspirations within law. This sounds daunting but, in practice, was made easy due to the openness and friendliness of the people.

What key skills did you develop during the scheme?

One week isn’t a long time, so good time management was crucial. Balancing scheduled meetings, meeting people and the work itself impacted how much extra work I could take on. I was mindful of meeting expectations across the week, while also prioritising meaningful conversations with people as I knew I’d only get one chance.

My confidence also increased, particularly in public speaking. This was put to the test on the final day during my presentation. I was intimidated, as I had to present to the entire firm. However, as soon as I started speaking, I immediately relaxed. I’d made notes on potential rebuttal points but during the follow-up questions I set these aside as I was confident in my topic and ability to justify my points.

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

To not be afraid to be yourself. It can be scary putting yourself out there, but there’s real value in being proactive and enthusiastic. Introduce yourself to people, ask questions and actively seek work. This all shows a willingness to learn and develop. When I came onto the vacation scheme with Marriott Harrison, it was my intention to be myself, give every task my all and expand my skill set. If you go in with this mindset, I don’t think you can go wrong.

Other than attending a vacation scheme, what’s the most relevant experience you’ve had that’s benefited your journey to becoming a lawyer?

For the past three years, I’ve worked as a customer service assistant at Lloyds Banking Group, alongside my studies. As law is a client-facing industry, the skills I’ve learnt at Lloyds will significantly aid my transition into the legal world, as forming client relationships and leveraging our expertise to outperform competitors plays a pivotal role in ensuring customer loyalty.

How did the scheme end?

A week after the scheme, Marriott Harrison’s recruitment team invited me back for an interview. The interview was an extension of the firm’s culture, which was great. It was personable and the partners interviewing me were genuinely interested in my experience and motivations to be a lawyer. When it came to tricky questions, the partners helped me to navigate my way through. This support made me feel I’d be well supported as a trainee. I was later accepted onto the training contract and I’m excited to be joining the team soon.