This review was submitted over 4 years ago, so some of the information it contains may no longer be relevant.
I found A&O first particularly enjoyable. There was a perfect balance between informative presentations, networking and more interactive challenges, such as the negotiation exercise, which was particularly enjoyable. Additionally, I found that 'speed-networking' allowed me to found out a lot more about the different practice areas at the firm in a more relaxed environment.
After A&O First I now fully appreciate why the firm has been labelled the 'friendly face of the Magic Circle'. I found that trainees and associates were enthusiastic to speak to me and answer my questions openly and honestly. I felt particularly valued when the partner with whom my buddy shared an office had a fifteen-minute conversation with me about my time at university, my career aspirations and how I was finding A&O First. This was a stark contrast to experiences at other firms.
The Graduate Recruitment team have been very responsive to any questions via email. My trainee buddy was particularly supportive and still enthusiastic to offer me advice, even though he is currently on secondment abroad.
This was where A&O First really stood out from insight schemes I have experienced at other firms. The negotiation exercise and case study have equipped me with key skills that I hope to be able to apply at the assessment day.
The individual days were structured very well. It might have been helpful to have an additional day with further exposure to the firm's different practice areas, perhaps shadowing a trainee in a different seat. (I understand however that A&O will be implementing this change for next year's A&O First) It perhaps would also have been useful to get some further insight from managing associates or partners about some of the deals they have worked on - for example, a presentation about a recent transaction, the commercial implications and the obstacles that had to be overcome.
Overall it was a very welcoming atmosphere, not just with A&O employees, but with the other participants in the scheme.
I felt that a great deal of time was invested in making sure the scheme featured the perfect balance between informative talks, networking events and interactive challenges to get involved in.
Whilst a little more time work-shadowing may have been helpful in this regard, I was able to envisage what working in a full time role would be, through the way in which the firm's employees interacted with one another, irrespective of their level. I was left with the impression that a working a full time role at the firm requires dedication and hard work but in a more open and honest environment than at other firms I have experienced.
I found everyone at the firm extremely welcoming and approachable, helping me appreciate why Allen & Overy has been labelled 'the friendly face of the Magic Circle'. I was particularly impressed by the firm's culture when the partner (with whom my trainee buddy shares an office) had a fifteen-minute conversation with me about the firm, commercial law and my career aspirations. Not only was this collegiate culture apparent between A&O staff, but also between my fellow A&O colleagues, which is, in itself, indicative of the firm's culture.
Whilst I was already committed to pursuing a career in commercial law, A&O First affirmed that a career in the Magic Circle, and particularly at Allen & Overy was my desired career path.
There were plenty of networking opportunities on both days. I particularly benefited from the 'speed-networking' event as I was exposed to a large number of practice areas that I haven't had the opportunity to find out about before. There was a variety of trainees and associates from across the firm, and each with a different story of how they came to A&O - I was really able to appreciate the firm's diversity.
I would definitely recommend the programme to a friend. As Campus Executive at my University, I have been encouraging first year students to apply as I believe the programme provides a unique snapshot of life at a Magic Circle law firm, and is extremely helpful whether studying law or another subject. Despite being already certain that a career in commercial law was for me, it affirmed this decision and also opened my eyes to other practice areas that I previously had not been as interested in.
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
27th September 2016