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Vacation scheme insider

Laura Sainty

Laura Sainty


July 2020


Philosophy, politics and economics


Durham University

What did you do while on the vacation scheme?

Because of the pandemic, the vacation scheme took place virtually over one week instead of two. Rather than being allocated specific departments to sit in, we were all given the same tasks which offered a taste of the variety of different types of work you might encounter as a trainee. We were set up with a trainee buddy and an associate as a supervisor, both of whom provided guidance and support throughout the week.

The scheme also consisted of welcome talks, practice area talks, task briefings, skill development sessions and social events. We were even invited to partake in a firm-wide unconscious bias mentoring session that took place on the second day.

What did you feel that you gained from the placement?

The placement allowed me to not only develop my understanding of the culture and work at Mayer Brown, but also to improve my skillset, by virtue of the on-the-job learning and skill sessions organised for us throughout the week. My desire to work at the firm was reaffirmed through the enjoyable nature of the work, as well as the friendliness of colleagues we encountered at all levels of the firm. Everyone was very generous with their time, from trainees organising evening socials to the senior partner, Sally Davies, scheduling two meetings with us.

The opportunity to network is a huge advantage to undertaking a vacation scheme. Although there is a two-year gap between the scheme and the training contract, it is invaluable to have points of contact at the firm who I feel comfortable reaching out to prior to the start date.

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

I most enjoyed the one-to-one calls with both my supervisor and trainee buddy. They were unique opportunities to ask direct questions about the firm and the profession, and to receive candid responses. The aspect I found most challenging was switching off at the end of the day. With so much interesting information and so many thought-provoking talks, it was sometimes hard to think of anything else after the working day’s end. 

Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?

At the end of the scheme, we each had a 20-minute interview with two partners. It was an opportunity both to reflect on the week and also to reaffirm the reasons that we would like to be considered for a training contract. I found out I had been offered a training contract shortly after the scheme.

Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?

I would highly advise reaching out during the scheme to ask as many people as possible about their experiences. Attending a vacation scheme is the perfect way for you to work out whether a firm is a good fit for you, as well as for the firm to assess your potential.