I really enjoyed my time on the CMS Academy Programme. It was challenging (particularly the first week on the 'Training in the Business of Law'), but I also have been able to learn a lot whilst I've been on the Programme. It was really clear that CMS had invested a lot into this new Programme, particularly the first week.
The CMS Academy Programme was well structured in the sense that whilst we received guidance and support, we were also left to think for ourselves and it was deliberately challenging. During the internship weeks, we were expected to use our initiative particularly with administrative tasks such as printing, scanning, IT problems, etc.
The new CMS Academy Programme was very well structured. The first week on the business of law allowed us to gain an insight into how law firms operate, what the disruptions to the legal industry are, the importance of client relationships, and the need to for innovation in the legal industry. The second and third weeks were more typical of vacation scheme which time spent in a particular department.
It was clear from the first day that CMS had really invested heavily in the Academy Programme and our personal training and development. The firm was very keen to see us develop key skills from this early stage before starting a training contract at a law firm. A lot of money was spent on the first week which included a panel on the future of law, a simulation activity which lasted a day and taught us some really valuable skills and lessons, visits to some of CMS' clients alongside many other things.
The 2 internship weeks really helped me to understand what it would be like to actually work at CMS. Everyone I spoke to was honest about what they enjoy about working here and what they don't enjoy so much (mainly the long hours!). No-one sugarcoated what it would be like to work here which I appreciated.
I was able to understand the general culture of CMS but it is quite hard to describe it in a few words since there were a lot of different personalities that I met. This ranged from trainees to partners, with some being friendlier than others, more approachable than others, etc. But as a whole, it would be fair to say that the culture of CMS is friendly and approachable compared to some other law firms.
There were plenty of opportunities for networking in the first week since so many partners and senior associates were involved in this week - either they were giving presentations on the CMS sectors or with us throughout the day assessing us. The 2 internship weeks were better for meeting trainees and speaking to them about how they've found their experience with the firm so far. However, it was up to you to use your initiative and arrange coffee with the employees that you wanted to speak to. CMS also organised video conferences with 6 of its international offices which I thought was excellent as it enabled us to find out from an early stage the secondments available.
There were quite a few social events - for the London office this included a CSR dinner, a cooking class, an evening at Madison rooptop bar and a trip to the theatre. I think that we could have been told earlier on what the socials were going to be (particularly for the last 2 weeks) as this was left till quite late, and perhaps they could have been better spread out across the 2 weeks.
There wasn't much mention of this over the course of the internship so perhaps there could have been a talk on the social activities that employees can get involved with. Aside from invites to play sports matches, I am not sure if there are many other non-sport activities that employees get involved with.
I would definitely recommend the CMS Academy Programme to a friend. It was a really good way to understand the firm better and I feel like I have gained a lot of knowledge over the 3 weeks of the Programme. With the addition of the first week, it is so different to any other law firm vacation scheme and I think that the investment put in by the firm has really showed.