Joseph Akwaboa

  • When: Summer 2016
  • Subject: Law
  • University: University of the West of England

What did you do while on the vacation scheme (eg, type of work, networking, presentations or social events)?

The two-week scheme was divided in half, with one week spent in an insurance seat and the next week spent in a commercial seat. I sat with the professional and financial risks team during my first week and the construction and projects team for the second week. The type of work varied between the two different areas. For example, in my insurance seat I attended client meetings and took attendance notes, while during my commercial seat I undertook a lot of research tasks and also drafted a number of letters. The experience gave me a great insight into what solicitors at RPC do and how interesting – not to mention time-sensitive – the work is. Also, the RPC trainees run a blog called ‘RPC trainees take on business’, which puts out regular content via the firm’s website and we were offered the chance to write a 500-word blog on a subject of our choice in a friendly competition, with the winner’s article then sent out across the firm. In terms of the social side of the scheme, we had a karaoke night in the first week and went bowling in the second week – a lot of the trainees attended both events and it was nice to get to know them while winding down in the evening. There was also a ‘speed networking’ session which was a good way to meet trainees from across the firm and learn about the different departments.

What did you feel that you gained from the placement (eg, insight into the firm, useful contacts or an appreciation of a trainee’s workload)?

Throughout the two weeks I was officially an employee of the firm and I was treated as one, rather than someone on work experience. That was evident in lots of small things, from how I arrived to find my own desk set up and personalised in exactly the same way as the associates’ and partners’ desks, to being invited to play football as part of the firm’s ‘inter-house system’, which facilitates friendly competition between those assigned to the Reynolds, Porter and Chamberlain ‘houses’ within the firm. I was also afforded an excellent insight into RPC’s work – it is one thing to read about what firms do and quite another to get involved yourself and see it first-hand.

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

The most enjoyable part of the scheme was sitting in on a client meeting with a partner and a senior associate, as well as the client’s head of legal. It was my job to write up the attendance notes for circulation to the client and it was fascinating to see how lawyers discuss ideas and the different aspects of a transaction – commercial and legal – from different perspectives. The most challenging aspect of the scheme was juggling the various priorities in terms of different tasks and social opportunities to meet people from across the firm.

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

All of the vacation schemers attended a training contract interview with a partner and a member of HR on the last day of the scheme.

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

The main thing I have learned from my own vacation scheme experiences is that it is so important to ask lots of questions and engage with all the aspects of the firm. Engaging with the work goes without saying, but you should also make the most of all the social opportunities given to you. It can be easy to just sit quietly at lunch, but you would be missing another good opportunity to talk to people in areas of the firm that you wouldn’t necessarily otherwise come across during the two weeks. 

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