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How to Succeed on a Law Vacation Scheme

Law Training Contract Application Specialists

Vacation schemes, one or two week placements at law firms, can open the doors to a training contract. In order to succeed, you’ll need to be well prepared and approach the vacation scheme with the right attitude. Here are some top tips.

Find the right scheme

Ensure that you thoroughly research the vac scheme that you’re going to take. Consider whether the firm aligns with your interests and your personality. Ensure that the city is right for you. This might be your best chance to secure a training contract, so make sure that it is a firm you really believe in.

A careful and thoughtful application to the Vacation Scheme

You need to treat the application process with great care. Show that you have researched the firm from the start, review and re-review any documentation and personal statements that you are asked to submit, and make sure to present yourself well – both in terms of how you come across in-person and how you write. When interviewing, make sure to show dedication to the particular firm, and practise thoroughly beforehand. Training contract exemplar questions, which apply to vac schemes too, can be found on the Blackstone Tutors site.

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Prepare for the Vacation Scheme

Research the firm more before you begin the vac scheme. Ensure you are up to date with relevant commercial news and current affairs.

Use the trainees to help you during the Vacation Scheme

You will find that the trainees will be your best ally on the vac scheme (along with the other students, of course). You should ask them for help whenever appropriate, and equally offer assistance to them whenever you can. Try to fill your time with as much ‘live work’ as possible. If you haven’t been given work, then be proactive and find some to do that will help the trainees and the team.

Be prepared for assessments to secure your Training Contract Place

The majority of vac schemes will have formal assessments in them. Expect interviews with partners, written exercises, or group tasks. These assessments will be used, along with your overall performance, to judge whether you are a suitable candidate for the firm’s training contracts in future. Therefore, practice the assessment structure beforehand and ensure that you bring any knowledge gained during the vac scheme to bear as well.

Network

You’ll have the chance to mingle with others throughout your vac scheme – both in and out of work. If there are social events offered, ensure that you attend. Connections made here could make the difference between you getting a training contract or not, just as assessments could.

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Treat the entire experience as an assessment for a Training COntract

Following on from the previous point – never cease working to get a training contract whilst you are on the scheme. This might mean working hard at networking, putting in extra hours, or missing out on sleep to attend a late night drinks with the trainees – whatever it takes, show that you will be present, dedicated to the firm and its teams, and hardworking, if a training contract is offered to you.

Speak to whoever you can

You’ll stand out more if you make the effort to be polite and friendly to everyone that you encounter, and make an effort to speak to people not in your immediate team too. Show that you are proactive by speaking to more senior lawyers if the opportunity arises, and getting advice or feedback from them.

Ensure that the firm is right for you - would you enjoy a Training Contract there?

Whilst the firm is assessing you, you have the opportunity to assess the firm too. Consider whether you will be able to work there for two years (at least) or whether it doesn’t fit you in the way that you thought it would. If it doesn’t, then how can you still use this opportunity and add to your CV, and equally what do you now know you need from a law firm?

Do more than one vac scheme

If you can, then taking on more than one vac scheme will only boost your CV and give you a better insight into where you want to train. If you are lucky enough to be in this position, then you should jump at the chance.

Take feedback and act on it

You will receive feedback during the vac scheme, and will hear as to whether you secured a training contract within a week or two of finishing the vac scheme. If you did secure a place, then reflect on what went well and implement learnings. If you did not, then seek feedback and ensure that you strengthen yourself for future vac schemes and/or training contract applications.
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