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Vacation scheme insider

Tom Atkin-Willoughby

Tom Atkin-Willoughby


Summer 2018




University of Manchester

What did you do while on the vacation scheme?

My scheme took place at the brand new Manchester office. I sat in the property litigation department throughout the week. The various activities I undertook consisted mainly of live matters that the team was working on. I was supervised by a trainee, Emily Holt, and worked alongside her on her own set of tasks, which obviously provided a very realistic insight into what being a trainee at Shoosmiths would be like. For one task, I had to research a point of law and come back with an interpretation and summary of that particular legal area. We also went to court one day to serve notices on landlords for one of our major clients. On a couple of occasions, I was asked to listen in on client conference calls and take notes during the call, which was great exposure and also mirrored the type of exercise at many assessment centres. In addition, I was introduced to Shoosmiths’ data site and entered some clients’ details into the system, and completed several lease renewals. On the other side, there were opportunities to socialise including a trainee lunch at Nando’s, which was a great chance to ask questions about everything Shoosmiths.                                                                               

What did you feel that you gained from the placement?

The main thing I gained from the week was a deep understanding of the firm. I tried to be proactive and by the end of the week I had met lots of people in the different teams across the firm, and being able to put faces to the Shoosmiths name was invaluable in deciding that this was the firm for me. The scheme also enabled me to talk about the firm with real confidence at the assessment centre that came later.

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

On the Monday, we were set a project to create a 15-minute presentation which we then had to deliver on Friday – it was a big element of the week. This was assessed by the training principal and other members of the team I had been part of. Doing well in the presentation, as well as over the course of the week, then gets you invited to an assessment centre later in the summer.

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

Two things – the first is quality over quantity when applying, I can’t stress that enough. I applied for training contracts for three years running and it was only in the second and third years that I really invested the time necessary to make my applications good enough. My other piece of advice is to be as proactive in getting to know people around the firm as possible. By the second or third day, I was sending emails to people in other areas I was interested in, such as intellectual property, where I was able to meet one of the partners for a coffee and learn more about their department.