The Vacation Scheme was thoroughly enjoyable. The work I took part in was interesting and varied, and help was always given where I needed it. Almost everyone I met at the firm was incredibly polite and helpful. On the rare occasion that people were too busy to talk they made a point to explain that this was the case, what they were doing, and when they would be free. Graduate Recruitment struck a perfect balance between generally treating us like would-be trainees (as did everybody at the firm), while also providing support at the points where we struggled with the learning curve accompanying this treatment. The only thing that could have been improved upon was that in my first week I felt like my supervisor was somewhat distant, but I think that by the end of the week she had warmed to me a little bit.
The firm generally treated me as though I was capable of doing some of the things that trainees do there on a day to day basis. This was flattering and, I found during my time there, reasonably expected, which only made me feel more valued. In addition to this, the amount of contact with partners was above and beyond what I had considered beforehand, and I know how costly it is for firms to do this. The willingness of trainees throughout the firm to find time for informal chats was also something which I greatly appreciated, as these requests were never denied during my time at HSF.
With the exception of my first few days, I could not have asked for any more support than I got during my Vacation Scheme. As a non-law student I was quite worried that a great deal of my questions would seem stupid to the lawyers at the firm, but this was not the case at all and I was encouraged to ask all these questions and always given guidance in finding answers to them. The department presentations put on by Graduate Recruitment meant that there were also opportunities outside of work to learn about the business of the firm.
Having to juggle day-to-day work given to me by my supervisor, as well as a weekly assessed written task and then research for a group pro-bono presentation really helped me to hone my time management skills. The general level of detailed required for the legal research that I had to conduct while at the firm has also definitely helped me in the evidence which I use to construct my arguments in my degree studies.
The Vacation Scheme was incredibly well structured, so much so that I did not have an idle moment during my two weeks at the firm. I suppose that some Vac Schemers might appreciate a more flexible approach to getting work while at the firm, but for me the structure was incredibly useful. The two departments I sat in while at HSF allowed me to experience the different structures of work itself across the firm: Disputes was more research based, while Corporate was more focused on attention to detail.
Graduate Recruitment did an amazing job of putting together a cohort of Vac Schemers that were all extremely fun and friendly, and all in completely different ways. This laid the foundation for an extremely pleasant atmosphere during my time at the firm, which was only magnified by the attitude of the firm itself. HSF have clearly cultivated an environment in which there is enough of a work/life balance for employees to carry out complex tasks and the hours associated with commercial law whilst remaining cheerful and attentive.
We were given a wealth of training. This included educational presentations from each department, networking development sessions, a Q&A session with trainees and a detailed IT training induction. All of these, plus the personal development which naturally occurred in such a professional environment, were a strong sign of investment in me as a person. Contact with partners also served this purpose well.
This was best done by treating us similarly to trainees, though with a reduced workload, and giving us access to trainees almost all of the time. Speaking to trainees themselves was the perfect opportunity to help me familiarise myself with what would be expected of me in the role, and in this regard the firm could not have been any more accommodating.
At such an early stage in my career I think it is quite difficult to grasp the intangibles that come together to form the culture of a company. What is more important than this however, is conclusions drawn as to whether or not the company is a good fit for me. In this sense the experience gained from the Vacation Scheme was indispensable.
I was already sure that I wanted to be a commercial lawyer, but the Vacation Scheme was still helpful in this regard insofar as it helped me to decide that Herbert Smith is the firm I want to work at. This was due to it having helped me understand that the firm was a good fit for me and, I hope, vice versa.
The pay was more than fair for the work I completed.
As has already been mentioned, networking with trainees was always an option whenever there was a moment we could afford away from our day to day work. Being taken for lunch by my supervisor was also good for meeting other members of there teams. Partner contact was very forthcoming and this also helped. The only improvement I can think of is that it would have been nice to be integrated into teams more, rather than just into a supervisor's office.
The networking session, while an incredibly thoughtful touch, was very much overkill. I think that the technicalities of networking were are not something which bother many people, and are not actually very widely applicable. Rather, myself and the other Vacation Schemers were initially lacking in confidence and I think this is something which could do with being worked on rather than networking skills.
Yes. Networks and committees for employees were explained to us, as well as sports teams which represent the firm. More importantly it was stressed to us that the firm takes an interest in cultivating an environment in which employees can follow shared pursuits, and so if I am interested enough in an activity then I can start my own group for it.
Yes, ahead of all the other firms I have visited.
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
Central London and City
12th April 2017
£20,000 - £21,999