From day one walking into the Edinburgh office, it was very welcoming. After being given our topic for the group exercise, we all got to work and as each day passed, it got more real. In the end, it was all very much relaxed compared to what I anticipated and I really enjoyed the whole experience. The same goes for the partner interview, as I was put at ease throughout in order to give my honest and best attempt.
Throughout my time at the firm I felt as a part of the team. Completing work of scale and with subsequent feedback, it made me feel valued. Also with a certain degree of autonomy, I felt as if the firm trusted my ability to get work done to a high standard. I was also invited to attend social events with other departments where I had less contact, which just goes to show the close-knit culture in the firm.
I simply cannot speak highly enough of the support network at CMS, for both students and trainees. Every single member of staff including: graduate recruitment, secretaries, associates, trainees and partners, everyone was more than willing to help and provide advice whenever I asked. Everyone I came into contact with was very approachable and friendly. The structure of the scheme also ensured that there was always a point of contact for me, whether it be my Trainee buddy or Supervisors, for work and any support that I needed.
This invaluable experience has allowed me to realise the mechanics of a modern commercial setting and how the law works at a large firm in practice. The hands-on experience is fantastic to get a feel for what kind of work comes through on a daily basis and then how to tackle problems as they arise. I have greatly developed my analytical and inter-personal skills in such a professional environment and it was certainly a confidence boost to work alongside leading practitioners; all transferrable skills which will prove crucial in both my degree and career in law.
The scheme was well-structured to ensure that students achieved the maximum benefit from the two weeks. As well as the people support structure, there was a well-planned programme where we got to attend seminars, talks from trainees and qualified solicitors which then lead us onto the assessments in the second week. In between there was numerous social events and lunches to get involved in with each department, and even a good game a 7's!
There was a very positive and welcoming atmosphere in the open-plan office; however this was coupled with a hardworking ethic where everyone completed their tasks on time and to the highest standard. I felt at ease the whole time and not as if I was being assessed or my work scrutinised.
CMS made sure this was a constant learning experience, whether that be in a seminar with recent changes in the law and its practical effect on a sector and clients or simply carrying out work at my desk. Add that to the group exercise and research that went into it, the firm invested significant time and resources to ensure I got the most out of my vacation scheme.
The most invaluable experience at the firm was understanding the culture and day to day life in the office. This is certainly the best manner in which to gauge suitability of the firm to you and vice versa. It also helped me get to know everyone in the office and as I built good relations throughout, it made me realise that I would love to have a full time role at CMS.
The vacation scheme was the best possibly way to understand the working culture in the firm and how both its people and processes operate. Everyone enjoys the work they do which not only ensures productivity, but is also infectious as I really enjoyed carrying out tasks in my team and we all had a good time.
One of the best things about the scheme was the content and level of work with which I was trusted. It was far from menial tasks as I was drafting articles, proof-reading for associates and trainees and conducting substantial research for senior members of the team. It was all useful and challenging work which was explained, by whoever passed it to me, in terms of how my contribution fitted into the wider picture. I was also encouraged to ask any questions about the nature and end-result of a task.
I was paid by the firm for undertaking the vacation scheme and paid no expenses at all. We were all taken out to various social events including lunches, dinners, and drinks. Not only that, I was also invited to play a football game each week of my placement, and after it too, with staff from different departments!
Yes, the firm regularly set up networking with trainees both within and out with the firm so we got a chance to meet people from different backgrounds and understand why they chose CMS and how they got there. This also included qualified solicitors explaining their career paths and the benefits of undertaking a trainee seat in secondment.
Each networking event presented an invaluable opportunity to discuss with trainees and solicitors their careers and will certainly prove important in deciding upon how to proceed with my own career in law. The social events were also very enjoyable and allowed me to relax with fellow students and colleagues after work and catch up on what each of us were doing.
Yes, all trainees were very helpful in telling us what opportunities there are available to us outside of the firm and also how to get involved. I took every opportunity to get involved with activities such as football with the trainees and associates. This made me feel part of the team and build rapport with my colleagues.
100% yes. The vacation scheme at CMS was an absolutely fantastic learning experience which few other top firms can offer. I got great exposure to interesting work with high-profile clients and was able to work alongside sector specialists. If you are unsure of your career path, then a vacation scheme is the best possible way to figure out how to proceed as it gives you a real insight into how the law works in the real world.