What work did you get involved with on the vacation scheme?
We were involved in a real range of activities and work during the vacation scheme, all of which offered fantastic insights into what life at Stevens & Bolton might entail. For example, we were given a fictional intellectual property task to complete throughout the week, and we had to look at several contracts and communications between different parties, alongside other documents. The task involved identifying the strengths or weaknesses in the proposition and presenting them with advice we’d give to the client in a letter. This was a great taster of the type of complex work we’d be doing as trainee lawyers at Stevens & Bolton, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The firm made it clear that we weren’t expected to find everything or understand all the issues, and gave us access to a model answer at the end of the week, as well as group feedback, which was incredibly helpful.
I also completed a research task for a commercial partner in some of my free time – this was a brilliant opportunity and involved preparing a summary document on a recent change in legislation that may affect some of the firm’s clients.
How did the scheme end?
The scheme ended with eight short back-to-back partner interviews. We were asked several questions by each of the partners, ranging from fictional “what would you do?” questions to ones about our motivations for applying. One partner asked everyone a surprising and entertaining question that tested our ability to form an opinion and then argue for that opinion when challenged. We were also given the chance to ask each of the partners a pre-prepared question and have a conversation on this topic of choice.
As terrifying as these interviews may seem written down, I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak with the partners about their interests and my own too – it was honestly one of the most enjoyable aspects of the scheme for me.
Did your attendance on the scheme support your application for a training contract?
If you perform well on the scheme, you may be given a training contract offer without any other assessment steps. The vacation scheme is a fantastic opportunity to show your personality, skills and enthusiasm for the firm.
What key skills are required to have a successful experience on the vacation scheme?
A willingness to engage and the ability to get stuck into something that may confuse or frighten you is key to succeeding and getting the most out of the opportunity. We were told throughout the vacation scheme that our answers to the tasks we were given weren’t a key part of the selection process, particularly as there were several candidates who’d little to no legal experience at all. In my opinion, the way we approached the tasks and the week as a whole was more important. Your desire to ask relevant questions, to speak with members of the firm with whom you share an interest, and your general attitude to others around you seem to have been the more important factors.
How can future vacation schemers ensure they get the most out of the scheme?
I found that taking my preparation for the scheme seriously really helped me to both perform well and make the most of it. Although some of my preparation wasn’t directly relevant in the end, having prepared meant I approached the scheme with a calm mind and was able to stay in the moment and listen, rather than worry about the upcoming tasks. The confidence that you get by feeling prepared comes across in your presentation and performance.
I also believe that taking initiative is key to getting the most out of the scheme. Asking, where appropriate, to undertake work that’s unfamiliar to you gives you the opportunity to build new skills, explore new areas and receive important feedback. Even if you make mistakes, your willingness to put yourself out there and expand on your experience will show your commitment and enthusiasm for the firm.