Vacation Scheme at CMS

Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
Bristol South West
Review Date
£18,000 - £19,999


About You
The Organisation
Everything Else


About You

1. To what extent did you enjoy the insight?

Really enjoyed it - and that isn't a joke! The first week was really unexpected in how busy, varied and engaging it was. The opportunity to visit a client was unique and offered something quite different to other vacation schemes. The chance to work in Bristol for 2 weeks during the "internship" part of the scheme was also fantastic, especially as it was still "London work"...


2. To what extent did you feel valued during your time at the company or firm?

I certainly felt valued during the first week. To have such an innovative week planned for you, and to have so many partners there supervising, assessing and interacting with you without doubt makes you feel valued as a vacation scheme student. CMS invested a lot of time, money and effort in the Academy and this was not lost on any of the interns. The next few weeks have been a little different, as I worked in a smaller team which was less intense and so I felt less at the centre of attention. Still felt valued though as the senior team members always had time to answer my questions.


3. How much guidance/support did you receive during the insight?

The first week felt quite assessed and like we were meant to be working independently and following our intuitions. This made it really fun and engaging, but meant that we didn't receive quite as much "support" during the day to day. Nevertheless, having partners around (especially on the client visit) allowed us to receive guidance a-plenty. A good mix of support and independence with expert insights offered when requested I would say. Lots of support available during the internship two weeks. I was really surprised at how closely I was able to interact with senior lawyers. It was part-and-parcel of my internship in a small team in a small office (RE disputes, Bristol) I suppose. Really pleasantly surprised. I was also quite surprised that I didn't receive much support from my trainee buddy - she was away during the first week and seemed really busy during 2nd week. The interaction with senior associate made up for it and more though.


4. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and information you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?

During the first week I really felt I developed an understanding of the Business of Law. Coming into the scheme I was confident of my knowledge of law as an academic subject, but less so about its commercial and practical elements. This first week really changed that and was invaluable going forward. This will definitely help during the early stages of my career as a lawyer... and to be honest at interviews for other firms' training contracts if I don't end up working for CMS. During my internship I was able to get stuck in to some of the more junior tasks and to get an insight into more important ones too. This was great and again showed me how clients juggle legal issues.


The Organisation

5. How well structured was the insight?

Week 1 was incredibly well structured. An organisational triumph I would say. Grad Rec did a fantastic job sorting everything out as it was a mammoth task. Everything from travel and accomodation costs and modes to structured day plans given well in advance were sorted out. They tailored our week individually depending on which sectors/practice groups you had expressed interest in. The end result was an excellently structured week. The internship was probably less well structured. Some of the planned events didn't happen (at least without chasing - e.g. feedback sessions), and I just got involved with matters as they arose. The social calendar was well organised though, and it would in any case be near impossible to be as well structured as week 1 given how much time and effort was invested in that week.


6. How was the general atmosphere during your insight?

As the scheme was clearly split into two very different segments, it's hard to charactise in a "general way". I would say "fun" and "informative" would be apt descriptions, and the first week is worth labelling "intense" too. Expect early starts and late finishes, albeit that much of the stuff out of normal hours is "social" activities. The internship was more relaxed, partly because there wasn't the feeling of constant assessment and scrutiny. Working in a regional office certainly helped feed into this more relaxed and practical atmosphere.


7. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?

Great work on this. Everyone felt as if they had been invested in quite considerably given the amount of time, effort and cost in organising the scheme, especially the first week. The fact that they had assembled a very large group of partners to stay with us ALL week only confirmed this. Can't fault this aspect in any way. Almost a 10, if this could have been contined into weeks 2 and 3 (although I don't know how they could justify such investment for such a long period!)


8. To what extent did the insight help you to understand what it would be like to have a full time role with the company or firm?

It's hard to say. Obviously the "Business of Law" week was not anything like being a practicising lawyer. During the internship, I felt at times as if we were being sheltered from the intensity of being a trainee here. My supervisor was happy with me working 9:00-17:00 with a decent lunch break, but when we went out on socials the trainees sometimes bemoaned that they'd been working quite late in recent days. As I was in Bristol, my very respectable hours were perhaps a little closer to a trainee's reality, but there were rumours of some people in my office staying in till 2am during my internship (junior lawyers)... Therefore I would probably say that I didn't really get a perfect impression of what working life was like here. Not that I would want to be working late!


9. How much did the insight help you in understanding the company culture?

The first week certainly ingrained in us the values that CMS were trying to uphold, although whether these are realisitically part of their company's culture is more blurred. It seemed apparent that during the ongoing merger the "culture" of the firm became a little harder to delineate. This emerged too as I sat in on nation-wide department conferences - there was apparently a clash of cultures between the legacy firms, and therefore it was hard to identify what the genuine working culture was....But working in a small, sociable team in Bristol that seemed honest and forthcoming with me, I would say that I got a decent impression despite these difficulties


10. How valuable was the content in helping you to decide on your future career path?

Valuable. It showed me how the legal sector works and how in-house legal departments, barristers' chambers and solicitors interact. I came into the internship intrigued as to which of these I'd like to work in ultimately, and I feel more informed now. It also taught me a lot about where I'd like to work - enabling you to experience London and regional offices was a big plus (and for me steered me towards London whereas I was unsure before). And of course I learnt about the firm itself. I am more confident that I'd like to work for CMS having gone on the Academy.


Other Information

11. Were you paid or reimbursed adequately for this experience?

Decent pay and generous reimbursements. If you don't file for reimbursemed expenses, they'll chase you, which was nice of them and shines very well on a lovely grad rec team.

12. Were there opportunities for networking and meeting other employees of the company or firm?



13. How were the networking/ social event opportunities?

There were socials with other vacation scheme students and some junior lawyers (the latter when I was on internship in Bristol). This was good. There were some "speed" networking events organised during week 1 but this felt a little forced. The intensity of this appeared a little overbearing for the lawyers who were knee-deep in the merger activities. For us as well, using our breaks to encourage networking was a bit too much given the lengths of the day and its intensity


14. Did you find out about activities that employees can get involved in outside of work?

Yes I got a good indication of these. We were invited to several such events and the trainees were keen to explain them with us. We got to interact with charity partners, train with the office football team in preparation for their oncoming "tour" and got an insight into what social activities the trainees get up to.


15. Would you recommend this insight to a friend?

100%. It's a great way to learn a lot in a short amount of time and get a really varied experience at one firm (esp. with the choice of a regional office internship). I would say that doing this type of vacation scheme along with a more traditional scheme as well gives you a good flavour and comparison of how different firms approach graduate recruitment.