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Vacation scheme insider

Emily Noble

Emily Noble


June 2023


French and international business


University of Leeds

What did a day on the vacation scheme look like? 


I’d arrive at the office at around 9am to grab breakfast and a coffee at Benugo, the café on the ground floor of RPC’s building, before heading to my desk to plan my day. At 9:30am, we usually had a skills-based workshop such as personal brand development. After this, I’d head back to my desk to work on the tasks I’d been assigned by my supervisor or go for coffee with someone from my team. My typical tasks included researching a point of law, reviewing contracts and writing articles for RPC’s website. For lunch, I’d meet my trainee buddy and other trainees to eat our food at St Katharine Docks and then I’d spend the rest of the day carrying on with my tasks before heading to a social with the other vac scheme students! 


What was it about the firm that attracted you to apply to its scheme? 


When applying to firms I liked RPC’s non-hierarchical structure and partner approachability. Every person I met at the firm, regardless of seniority, was happy to take the time to talk to me and give insights into their work. I really valued this because vacation schemes can be nerve-wracking experiences, but friendly conversations alleviate some of that pressure.   


What key skills are required to have a successful experience on the vacation scheme? 


Time management throughout the scheme is very important. Try to get involved in as much as possible, but also be honest about your capacity if you have too much on your plate. Balance your time between completing the tasks you’ve been given and networking with people at the firm. How you fit into the firm culture is as important as the quality of your work. Be approachable, engaged, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The ability to actively listen and take onboard feedback will put you in good stead. Make sure you implement any feedback you receive and demonstrate your development throughout the scheme. 


Did your attendance on the scheme support your application for a training contract?

Vacation schemes are a two-way process; as much as the firm is assessing whether you’d be a good fit, you’re also assessing whether you want to start your career there. By getting involved in a range of different tasks and activities, I gained an authentic insight into life at RPC which, in turn, added depth to my application. It’s a very different experience to convince someone that you’d be a great fit for their firm in person versus a written application. I think the vacation scheme humanised the training contract process for me and I walked away from the scheme feeling like I’d gained an invaluable experience regardless of the outcome. 


Looking back, what advice do you wish you’d received before starting your vacation scheme? 


While it’s helpful to come prepared and read around your seats once you’ve been given your allocations, my top tip is to avoid over preparing. The best approach is to have plenty of rest before the vacation scheme, as it’s likely to be an action-packed few weeks and you want to present your best self. I’d also recommend thinking about your unique selling points and why you’ve decided to pursue a legal career at RPC in the first place. Genuine enthusiasm will always shine through.


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


Despite not being related to the legal profession, I frequently drew on my experience working in a foreign country during my year abroad. I learned skills such as time management, client interaction and collaboration – which are all integral to the role of a lawyer. You can gain a range of skills from different kinds of role so don’t be shy to highlight work experience you’ve completed that sits outside of the legal sector, especially if you’re a non-law applicant. If anything, that’ll help you to stand out from the crowd.