I really enjoyed my time at the firm. Not only were they extremely welcoming and encouraging but the firm and Vacation Scheme itself is very well organised and this really stood out to me.
I was given real work in the Corporate department and even in just five days of being there, I felt like I learnt a lot about Corporate law. My colleagues, including trainees, associates and partners were all very willing to explain the processes involved in Corporate law, I did not often have to ask why we do things a certain way but nearly every time they would properly explain to me and provide me with in-depth context. The Corporate tasks that I did undertake were interesting to me since I had never experienced the work of a Corporate department before. Similarly, the assignments I was given by Graduate Recruitment to complete alongside my work were really interesting too. I thoroughly enjoyed researching for the tasks since they were very relevant to the issues we are facing at the moment with Brexit.
I felt really valued throughout the week. From the get-go, I was asked to accompany group meetings and conference calls and my insight was often asked for. Also, I was given a research task that was based on a complicated question asked by the client, involving liquidation of a parent company, and although this proved to be very difficult to find a solution, after liaison with a professional support lawyer and lots of digging, I came to a final conclusion which was ultimately sent to the client by the associate in the team. Although this might have been considered a fairly minor task, this was something that I had work quite extensively on and was ultimately used to recommend a client. This was very rewarding for me.
Also I was never ignored or put in a corner. In fact, the Partner jokingly asked me to stay on a few more weeks.
I was given a lot of support and guidance. All of the tasks I was set came with an in-depth explanation as to what they were looking for and how long I should spend on the tasks. Similarly, when doing practical work, the reasons for doing a particular task was always explained me to by my host and others in the team. If I had any questions, they were more than happy to answer. A lot of the time though, I did not feel I needed to ask many questions and this simply demonstrates how good Shoosmiths' guidance and support was.
From this week, I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to carry out legal work. I am normally quite self-critical and not particularly confident in my abilities but because I felt encouraged and valued at Shoosmiths, I became a lot more confident that I was capable of doing the tasks I was set. I felt less afraid to speak up and ask questions, since it is easy to feel out of your depth during placements. This is no doubt crucial for an eventual career in law. Everyone will have moments where they question their abilities but ultimately, it is important that you are confident that you can do the work you're set.
In addition, time management was absolutely crucial during this placement. I had a deadline mid-week, which was set by Graduate Recruitment, alongside my usual Corporate tasks. I also had a project to research and present on the last day of the week, including organising the booking and finding out who would be available to attend. It was vital that I could manage my time effectively during the week to ensure all of my tasks were completed. This is extremely important during studies and in the workplace, particularly in law. There are often deadlines to meet and it is important that you can time manage so as to ensure you do not disappoint a client or fail to hand in a piece of coursework.
The projects I was set by Graduate Recruitment were very structured with stringent deadlines and particularly criteria that had to be met when handing in your assignments. However, regarding the work in the team, this was a lot more flexible and I was free to fit it in and around the other tasks I had. Although I always ensured I completed tasks in good time, I was not put under immense pressure to get something sent out or finish a piece of research in a designated amount of time. This flexbility nicely balanced to the structured assigments I had, since things did not often clash and I could apportion my time accordingly.
The general atmosphere was extremely positive. In fact, in comparison to other placements and legal work I have undertaken, it is the positive working environment I have experienced. This is partly because the firm has adopted an 'agile' working environment, meaning that employees of all levels sit amongst eachother and no one has a designated office or desk. This means that there is no physical hierarchy between PAs, trainees, associates, partners etc. Even the CEO is based at the office I worked in and she is also part of the hot-desk working space. This lack of separation between employees creates a really friendly working atmosphere which is not high pressured but nonetheless hard-working.
The firm also gets involved in a lot of activities, including lunch-time competitions, working lunches and at-desk massages!
The firm was fairly good at this, I received a call mid-week from Graduate Recruitment asking me how the week was going and if I had any questions. I was asked by several of the partners and Head of Office how I was finding the week, so I felt the firm was very much interested in my time at the office.
I was also given a lot of support and guidance as to why I was doing the tasks I was doing which was extremely useful for development, since it is important that you actually understand why you are doing the jobs you are doing.
There is only so much you can gather from one week but from the experience that I did have suggested a good learning environment if I were to become a trainee at the firm. I was treated just like any other employee during the week, so this helped me to understand what it might be like to work there full time.
Very much so. I learnt that client service is something the firm really prioritises as well as a dynamic working environment. They like to ensure their employees are comfortable so have quiet rooms that you can go and work in, as well as providing a social area in the office where everyone sits for lunch and can watch TV. This demonstrated that the firms recognises the importance of mental well-being and maintaining a stress-free working environment if at all possible. In comparison to other firms, this is something that really stood out.
Everything I did during the placement has confirmed to me more than ever that a career in law is something I want to pursue. The work that I did each day was stimulating and stretched my knowledge that I already have to a greater exent. This has demonstrated just how much there is to learn and I feel very eager to start learning as soon as possible. I am still unsure as to what area of law I want to go into simply because I have enjoyed all the different experience I've had so far.
I was paid quite a generous amount for the week that I spent there and I think that the amount I was paid was proportionate to the extent of work undertaken.
My host was really good at introducing me to partners at the firm, as well as the training principal, the head of office and other members of staff. I also spent several lunches with trainees, I attended a working lunch with different people across the firm and a corporate team lunch on my last day. There were lots of opportunities to chat to important colleagues in a friendly environment.
Very easy going and it always took place in a comfortable environment. It never felt like I was being assessed and everyone was easy to chat to in a friendly manner.
During my week, I was emailed about many activities that were taking place during the next few weeks.
I would definitely recommend it to a friend as it has been my most valuable experience so far.
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
16th June 2017