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Vacation scheme insider

Matt Ward

Matt Ward


June 2020




University of Exeter

What did you do while on the virtual vacation scheme?

During my vacation scheme with RPC I worked in the construction team, which is part of the firm’s insurance practice. I was given a variety of different tasks from disputes to coverage issues. To showcase this with an example, I conducted research on the options available to a client who needed more time to comply with the pre-action protocols while ensuring the limitation period for their claim didn't lapse. It’s really fascinating, especially to see how your research in reality turns into legal advice for your client.

RPC also runs several interactive workshops on topics that are strategic priorities for the firm (eg, insurance, retail, commercial disputes, regulatory and technology and media), diversity and inclusion, and the business blog run by trainees.

There are plenty of opportunities to socialise – for example, the current trainees host a quiz night which is a great way to catch up with your cohort. The firm also organised a speed networking event and throughout the week you are encouraged to arrange virtual coffee meetings with various people across the firm!

What did you feel that you gained from the placement?

While the scheme was condensed into only four days due to covid-19 restrictions, I received a comprehensive insight into the firm's key practice areas and culture. This was supplemented by the virtual coffee meetings I had with various trainees, associates and partners who were happy to answer any questions I had in a detailed and honest manner, which highlighted how supportive and friendly the firm is.

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

The tasks you are given are really enjoyable – for example, I had to research a phenomenon called vortex shedding (ie, a loud creaking noise that emanates out of the structure of tall buildings in high winds). It was interesting to learn about different concepts and explore the liabilities that can arise as a result. I also enjoyed getting to know my cohort.

On the penultimate day of the scheme we gave a presentation to our team on a topic that we had researched over the week. This was challenging as I was naturally quite nervous, but my supervisor and trainee buddy were supportive and reassuring! The team were engaged throughout my presentation and asked several questions, which helped to get the most out of me and the research I had done.

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

On the final day I had an interview with a member of the people team and a partner, which focused on my experiences throughout the week and how I could apply my skills as a trainee.

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

I think in an environment where we have to work remotely, it is important to stay in regular contact with your trainee buddy and supervisor. They will go out of their way to help you to get the most out of the scheme, so don't be afraid to ask for virtual catch-up meetings. I was also encouraged to speak to others I had encountered throughout the scheme.