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Drafted a vacation scheme application? Check. Sent in your vacation scheme application? Check. Got an offer from your dream firm? Check... Now what?
Vacation Schemes can be tricky to manage. The thought of stepping into the firm on day one can be both overwhelming yet exciting. Here is a guide on what you can expect when you embark on a vacation scheme.
Almost every vacation scheme kicks off with an introduction to the firm (and the key individuals who will be overseeing you), schedule, assessment process and IT training. These bits of information are incredibly helpful for making your short stint a comfortable one.
I found my vacation scheme introductory sessions really useful – especially the IT briefing! Different firms have different ways of saving/storing documents and drawing up templates. Your usual keyboard shortcuts (such as Ctrl-S) may not be appropriate on a vacation scheme.
Tip: Make sure you leave the IT sessions with a decent understanding of how the firm’s technology works.
Some firms hold practice area talks across the duration of your vacation scheme. These aim to shed some light on the illusive world of commercial law and what lawyers in each department get up to.
I enjoyed getting to know more about the different practice areas. These gave me a more holistic view of how different teams work together to piece a deal together. Most importantly, this is an opportunity for you to find out what your vacation scheme practice seats typically get involved with (more in the next tip).
Tip: Do some research on these practice areas before their respective talks. This gives you a chance to get some clarification on certain practice-specific questions that you may have. You may also wish to ask any questions that you have over a coffee.
Do some research on the seat(s) that you will be assigned to. This includes research on any deals that your specific team may have worked on recently. You should also do some research on the common legal or commercial jargon that you may come across in your practice department. For example, you may wish to know basic acquisition structures (share purchase or asset purchase) if you are placed in the Corporate/M&A team.
Tip: Check out LexisNexis blogs for updates on the respective practice areas in the industry. Lexis®PSL is also a great way to read up on practice-specific news and jargon.
Your supervisor or team may get you involved in some transactions or cases that they may be working on. These tasks include proofreading, drafting or conducting legal research. I had tasks ranging from drafting memos, conducting simple legal research for clients and compiling a conditions precedent checklist. These provided me with a glimpse of what legal practice will be like at a junior level.
Tip: LexisPSL is a great way to do research on practical law matters, especially transactional ones. You may wish to use Lexis®Library if you require a case summary in your contentious seats. Most importantly, make sure you have a notebook with you at all times. This will ensure that you do not miss out on any bits of information needed for the task.
Social events are a great way to get to know your vacation scheme cohort, supervisors and the graduate recruitment team! Use these opportunities to take a break from the schedule and to reward yourself after a day’s work. I really enjoyed hearing more about the firm and its lawyers in an informal setting. This included events such as rooftop drinks, a biscuit-making workshop and an end of scheme dinner. These are also great ways to show the firm what you are like outside the workplace.
Tip: While the rooftop drinks may not be possible this year, you should still take this opportunity to network with individuals from the firm. This will give you an insider’s perspective into the firm and allow you to make an informed choice as to whether you see yourself training at that firm. Also, enjoy yourself at these events – but not too much!
You are more likely than not to have an exit interview on the final few days of your Vacation Scheme. The firm is likely to want to know how you felt over the course of the Vacation Scheme. They would probably also like to know what you learnt about the firm during your time there.
Tip: Your notebook should have the full details of every task you attempted and every talk you attended. Make sure you read through this before your scheduled exit interview.
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