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Vacation scheme insider

Alice Powell

Alice Powell


July 2020




University of Bristol

What did you do while on the virtual vacation scheme?

I did two seats – one in commercial, IT and IP, and one in private client. It was a bit like a mini training contract, where I spent two days in one and two in the other, doing a mixture of live and pre-set work. The first day on the scheme was set out as a training day and we also heard from various people across the firm, including practice group heads, chairs of the diversity and inclusion networks, and a wellbeing session with the diversity, inclusion and wellbeing manager.

In the commercial seat, I amended and drafted online terms and conditions, and privacy policies. Plus, because I did IP as part of my degree, my supervisor allowed me to do some live work on trademark infringement reports, which I enjoyed as I could put my knowledge to use.

Within the private client seat, I worked on wills, letters of wishes, and calculating inheritance tax on estates, which is something I had never done before and it offered a great insight into the work and clients in this area.

What did you feel that you gained from the placement?

With the scheme being on Zoom, it meant that it was that bit easier to arrange a number of virtual coffee meetings with a variety of partners and associates across the company and its offices, which offered greater exposure to those working at the firm. The calls helped me gain a great sense of the firm’s down-to-earth nature and a deeper insight into areas separate from the seats I was doing – for example, sports law and corporate/commercial law. It also demonstrated how flexible the firm can be and how quickly they’d adapted following the national lockdown.

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

I most enjoyed getting involved in the live work. My supervisor explained what I was doing, why, and the importance behind the decisions, which helped me to improve my commercial awareness around choosing one route over another.

The socials were also great – the trainees went the extra mile to make them enjoyable, despite being virtual.

In terms of the most challenging aspect, it was probably the zoom fatigue.

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

At the end of week, we had a reflective conversation with HR, which included discussing how we found the scheme and my motivations for applying to Mills & Reeve. There wasn’t a formal training contract interview and, as we were assessed throughout the scheme, there were no final assessments at the end.

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

Ask questions. I felt apprehensive to do this initially, but you will get so much more out of the scheme. Another point to note is that it is normal for vac schemers to go into the placement feeling nervous and imposter syndrome can often creep in when you’re just one of a whole group of exceptional candidates and you know there are limited training contracts on offer. But don’t compare; focus on yourself and know that you deserve to be there.