One week placement in a team of your choice.
I really enjoyed my week at Shoosmiths. As well as doing the set work of a mini assignment and preparing a presentation, I had the chance to do real work in the corporate team. I also was able to attend the end of financial year brief by Chairman Peter Duff - I was able to hear how the company has done over the last year and where it looks to go in the future. The firm had just moved into their new Manchester offices which meant an invite to the office warming, where I got a chance to speak first hand with the chairman and head of office Vaq. The week was definitely challenging, but it gave me great experience of what it is like to juggle different tasks and prioritize.
I was introduced to so many different people within the firm, and the non-hierarchical nature made me feel just as valued as if I had been there for 10 years! The new agile working environment meant I was sat next to different people every day and could move to different workspaces depending on the work I was completing.
With the mini project and assignment I was given at the beginning of the week, quite a lot of freedom was given about how to approach them. When I did need advice, or just a chance to run my ideas past someone, my trainee Dominique was always more than willing to help. I never felt silly for asking a question to anyone and everyone was more than happy to help.
My time management skills have definitely improved over this week, and will undoubtedly come in use later in my career. I feel like I now have a real insight into what work in a corporate department is like and the sort of clients the firm deals with.
Very well structured. One piece of work was to be handed in by Wednesday, and the other piece by Friday. We were given advice on how long to spend on each task, but it was made clear that we could spend more time doing real work within the teams we were working in.
I enjoyed my time at Shoosmiths very much and that was down to the culture within the firm. Although everyone has a strong work ethic, they are more than happy to help or answer any questions. Everyone knew everyone within the firm and there was such a buzz.
The firm definitely invested a lot in us, giving us a trainee buddy for the week and spending a lot of time drawing together tasks for us to complete. Our presentation was in front of a partner, a trainee supervisor and HR, who gave us feedback about our presentations.
Instead of sitting in a different seat everyday life at other firms, spending a whole week with one team on cases that ran for the whole time was so beneficial. I felt like a trainee for the week with the work I was doing. I also got to see more of the social side of the firm which was good to see what life would be like in the firm.
The culture of the firm is very much focused on the people who work there and building relationships with the clients. The agile working environment gives everyone the freedom to move around, speak to new people, work collaboratively in the larger working zones, or find a quiet room if you needed to get your head down.
I was able to see what the workload would be like in a corporate team and also in a busy city firm. I was able to see whether corporate law was the path I wanted to go down and whether I could see myself working in this area in the future.
I was paid a generous salary for the week which more than covered travel expenses. The firm also reimburses for any business trips you take during the week, but this wasn't relevant to my time with the firm. In my previous experience, I had only been reimbursed for travel and not paid. Although I would have done it without pay, it did make me feel a higher level of responsibility with the work I was doing.
Being invited to the office warming party was a great opportunity for me to network with everyone in the firm, particularly being lucky enough to speak to the chairman about how the firm has grown and his career background. We also went out for lunches with the office's trainees on a number of times throughout the week, which gave them a chance to tell us what its really like working at Shoosmiths.
It is clear the firm put a lot of time and effort into planning the social events, and was good to hear about all the events the firm puts on for the trainees to get to know each other and the firm before they began their training contracts. There was a lot of focus on building working relationships in the firm throughout the week.
Employees are encouraged to go to social events as well as charity events with the charities they support. During the week I spent in the firm, the corporate team went to an awards dinner, and I also heard about the balls they go to.
I would recommend the vacation scheme to anyone who wants to see what its like in a firm before training contract applications. It became clear this week that culture is so important when you spend a lot of time at work, and being able to feel supported throughout the beginning of your legal career (and beyond) is critical.