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Vacation scheme insider

Ruairi McGill

Ruairi McGill


July 2019


Economics and politics


University of Bristol

What did you do while on the vacation scheme?

The vacation scheme was a great insight into the type of work that Vinson & Elkins (V&E) undertakes and the firm’s culture. It is designed to have smaller intakes across the summer to allow you to get to know the firm and for them to get to know you.

The vacation scheme started with introductions to everyone in the office, which really showcased the open-door culture that V&E fosters. You’re set a case study which involves producing a report, as well as a few smaller tasks to complete across the week. Beyond this, the work you undertake is largely based on the interactions you have with the lawyers – for example, I was set a task from the tax team and once I had finished it I was encouraged to approach other departments for work, which is reflective of the training contract. 

You will work on live, substantive issues and like the training contract, which is unique in the London market as it follows a non-rotational format, you can tailor the vacation scheme to areas of work you’re interested in. For example, I was able to source work from litigation, capital markets, energy transactions and projects.

You’re also assigned a trainee mentor who is your first point of contact for the week and there are various social events, including lunch on the first day so you can get to know the current trainees.

What did you feel that you gained from the placement?

It tries to replicate a week as a trainee solicitor as much as possible. I had several informal discussions with lawyers and support staff that helped me understand what the firm does.

The great atmosphere was a key takeaway – it’s a very friendly firm and they want you to enjoy the week. We were encouraged to ask for work from anyone, regardless of whether they were a partner or trainee solicitor.

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

The most enjoyable part of the scheme was the substantive, meaningful and varied tasks. On one morning I put together a brief on a microstate’s legal system for the litigation team, followed by a responsibility matrix for the energy transaction and projects team. They really stress that the vacation scheme isn’t just for them to see whether you’re the right fit for them to offer you a training contract, but it’s also for you to see whether the firm is the right fit for you – it’s an honest representation of what working for the firm will be like.

The most challenging aspect was managing the workload as you’re set a variety of different tasks with competing deadlines across the week.

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

I had an exit interview on the penultimate day, which was an informal opportunity to discuss the week with the graduate recruitment team and go through the report you’ve worked on over the week. I was then offered a training contract a couple of months later.

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

It’s important to enjoy the week and be yourself as much as possible. Throw yourself into the work even if it’s not an area you have experience in as the people are friendly and willing to answer questions and offer their support.