University of Manchester
My scheme was in the Bristol office and I sat in two departments – commercial litigation and corporate – both of which I had expressed interest in prior to the scheme. The types of work were very different, with litigation involving research using various new sources such as Practical Law, while in corporate I was drafting ancillary documents for various deals. We also visited the London office, where we had a talk from the UK managing partner and met all the other vac schemers, and enjoyed several networking lunches and social events. There were also numerous presentations, including one on career progression, which was unique to any other vac scheme I had experienced.
Vac schemes are so important from a cultural perspective. Culture is something you can only learn so much about by reading up on the firm; you don’t get a tangible understanding until you go into the firm, be yourself in that environment and see how comfortable you feel. It has to be right for you as well as the firm. Personally, I just threw myself into it and felt comfortable from the first day. Everyone I met had a genuine interest in me and overall I felt that I thrived at OC.
Also, having access to the firm’s intranet was amazing – it gives you so much information that’s not in the public domain. When I was preparing for my final interview, I was able to answer the ‘Why OC?’ question much more intelligently, relating it back to me and the firm. Make sure you use the intranet while you can!
My favourite part was knowing that I was doing real work for real clients; none of it was hypothetical. I also received lots of useful feedback from both trainees and partners, so I learnt a huge amount in just two weeks. More challenging was the stamina required – the 9-5 is hard enough when you’re a student, but feeling that you need to constantly be on top form means that you have a heightened sense of self-awareness throughout. However, it’s an excellent insight into the busy life of a trainee – I just made sure I got lots of sleep at the weekend!
We had an interview with two partners on the final day, where we discussed my experience on the scheme and how I would approach life as a trainee. There were also group and written exercises over the two weeks, so I took comfort that I was assessed in the round.
Approach everything with enthusiasm, as it’s a two-way process. If you are lucky enough to have a choice of offers, you want to be informed and know that you’re making the right decision. Demonstrate your enthusiasm by asking for feedback and about the wider context of the work you’re doing. Overall, throw yourself into it – that’s how you’ll get the most from your scheme.