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Vacation scheme insider

Kieran Henley

Kieran Henley


Summer 2021




Manchester Metropolitan University

What did you do while on the vacation scheme?

Shoosmiths’ 2021 vacation scheme took place virtually but we still had a full schedule of assignments and activities relating to the role of a trainee lawyer. For example, there were workshops focusing on the firm’s core practice areas, including corporate and real estate, as well as assignments that mirrored trainee tasks and involved balancing multiple priorities.

We also had a project to work on, which ended in a presentation to partners. The firm assigned us project mentors who provided guidance on this part of the scheme, as well as a trainee buddy who was on hand to offer support and answer questions.

What did you learn about the firm while on the placement?

I developed an understanding of the role of a Shoosmiths trainee and the tasks they undertake, as well as what makes the firm unique – you become privy to key information about the firm that you won’t necessarily find online, which is invaluable when it comes to the training contract application process. While the scheme was virtual, there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions to various people at the firm, including trainees, associates and partners, which helped to draw a picture of what it’s like to work there, and how friendly and approachable the firm is.

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

The individual project was the most challenging aspect. The scheme is jam-packed with activities and assignments so it’s key you can manage your time effectively. On the other hand, the most enjoyable aspect of the scheme was experiencing Shoosmiths’ culture – it’s much more than just words on a website. For example, I reached out to a national sector head of the firm for some advice on my project and they were keen to offer advice and guidance, which proves just how approachable everyone at the firm is regardless of seniority.   

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

The assessment centre for a training contract at Shoosmiths happens after the vacation scheme to enable those who were unable to attend the vacation scheme due to work commitments, for example, to still have the chance to apply. Quite a few of the tasks on the vacation scheme replicate common assessment centre tasks, so taking part in the vacation scheme will put you in good stead for that training contract interview.   

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

Ask questions and be engaged. Law firms are looking for trainees who are inquisitive and keen to learn. Shoosmiths want candidates who align with its collaborative and approachable culture, so it’s important you incorporate these core values through all interaction you have with them. 

What do you wish you had known before starting the vacation scheme that you now know?

I was a bit worried before the scheme as I come from a non-Russell Group university background, however, this was quickly dispelled when I experienced Shoosmiths’ welcoming nature. The firm accepts candidates from all universities and so there is a level playing field for everyone which made me at ease during the scheme.