Sat in the Real Estate department and learned about the inner workings of the daily life of a solicitor.
The whole three weeks gave me a real in-depth look at the various aspects of the firm. The variety of the Academy kept me interested and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. The Business and Law week was extremely valuable and set me up well for the two week internship. The only reason that I have not given ten stars is that it was hard to relax during the Business and Law week and it would have been nice to have a social that was just for vac schemers with no pressure of being watched.
The amount of time and effort that has gone into preparing this vac scheme is huge, not to mention the financial cost to the firm. It made me feel like CMS really wants and values their vac schemers. The work I did during the office also made me feel valued as it helped me to contribute in some way and feel like I am part of the team. Also, the opportunity given to us to meet some of CMS's most valuable clients reflects the value and trust they place in their vac schemers.
CMS employs a buddy system which provides you with a trainee of the firm who is there for you to ask any questions at all. It is more of an informal arrangement which allows you to contact them about anything such as what time should I leave or how should I approach certain people. Aside from that I had a supervisor who was in constant contact with me and giving me advice and feedback which was extremely helpful. On top of this the Grad Recruitment team have been great in sorting all the logistics over the past three weeks and are very approachable too.
There were all sorts of skills I developed over the course of the scheme. In terms of practical skills, I managed to understand more how drafting a deed works and I believe my drafting skills improved over time. Essential work skills such as prioritising certain tasks or responding to e-mails in good time have also developed further during the course of the three weeks. The information I received during the Business and Law week is invaluable and was a great insight into the commercial focus of the firm and how important business knowledge is when dealing with clients.
A lot of planning and consideration went into the whole three weeks. The first week saw all of the CMS UK offices coming together in London with a whole week of well thought out activities and events. This gave us a good platform to go out to our respective regional offices and spend the next two weeks in the office environment. Even so, social events and activities were still planned out for that time and therefore gave us a solid structure for how the two weeks were going to pan out.
The general atmosphere was enthusiastic and positive for most of the scheme. The firm definitely tried to make the vac schemers feel relaxed and welcomed into the firm. Aside from that, the social events were there to allow the vac schemers to unwind and network with their peers. The only downside to this is that there were only a few opportunities to truly unwind and just talk to other vac schemers in a neutral setting without feeling like you might be being assessed. However, this is part and parcel of all schemes and not necessarily unique to CMS.
Time, money and effort. All huge investments from the firm in terms of my development and training. The experience of the first week in London allowed me to develop my commercial awareness, soemthing that a lot of law students never get the opportunity to do. They gave us access to their biggest clients which allowed me to get a greater understanding of the needs of a client and what they look for when they are selecting firms for their panels.
The two weeks spent in the office really allowed me to understand how the different roles at the firm play out. It gave me the opportunity to ask plenty of questions to trainees, associates, senior associates and partners in terms of their day to day tasks and work life balance. The access to all ranges of people at the firm allowed me to gain a well rounded view of what a full time role at the firm would look like.
As the firm has recently undergone a significant merger a lot of people may have had doubts about how the culture of the legacy firms would merge. The firm therefore made great efforts to emphasise what the CMS culture is by teaching us their values and what they believe will bring success for the future. The plan for future growth was also emphasised to us and it was pressed upon us that we will play a big part in it.
I already had a good idea about what I wanted to pursue in terms of a career. Although if I did not, I think the content still would have given me a detailed idea about whether this career was suited to me or not. Part of the experience is you understand more about them and therefore there are lots of opportunities to do this throughout the scheme.
As an applicant for the Sheffield office, I was provided with a very nice apartment during the London stay with travel back and forth.
Plenty of opportunites throughout the scheme to do this. On a basic level, everybody in the office is very approachable so vac schemers can take the initiative to ask questions for themselves. Each lunch and drinks session had people from the firm of a range of positions that gave an opportunity to ask further questions and network. Additionally there was an event in Sheffield that allowed us to meet other professionals in the city.
We took part in a Chefs Challenge where we were split up into teams and had to create a dish together. This was a good way to bond in a more relaxed environment. There was also a tour of the local brewery here in Sheffield which enabled us to see a different side of the people at the firm.
There are dedicated web pages about these kinds of opportunities within the CMS intranet but these are mainly focused on the London office. I am aware of a football team and a netball team although I didnt get a chance to play as there were already enough players. There may be other opportunities such as pro bono opportunities but these weren't emphasised to us much.
I would definitely recommend the CMS Academy scheme to a friend. It is a massive opportunity to get an insight into the daily workings of a top firm. The firm make you feel welcome and valued and there were never moments that felt unstructured or out of place. CMS are really innovating with this scheme, exemplified by the hydroelectric plant simulation task.