The insight was a great opportunity to experience a range of different work in a range of different practice areas, as well as socialize with other interns and trainees to get a feel for the culture of the firm. The number of social activities was just right, I have done other vacation schemes where there are multiple socials every week and this can be too tiring, so it was great to be able to genuinely enjoy all the great socials that HSF put on. Also, it was a pleasure working with both the IP and pensions/incentives teams, as both teams were very friendly and made it a pleasure to come into work each day.
This was the best vacation scheme I've ever done in terms of the interest that both my supervisors and the wider teams took in involving me in tasks and developing a range of my skills. The tasks which I worked on were frequently relied on, albeit with a trainee/associate reviewing my efforts, when giving advice to clients, so I felt very respected as a member of both teams.
The guidance and support offered was exceptional - in both the IP and pensions/incentives teams the lawyers who set me tasks would always take the time to review my work with me and offer detailed feedback concerning all the relevant criteria, e.g. content, formatting. In addition, my supervisors were always very receptive to questions in order to ensure that I felt secure in carrying out the tasks that I was given.
The focus on ensuring that my writing was tailored to the intended audience, be it a senior lawyer or a client, has definitely made me think more about how somebody reading my work for the first time would understand it. This has developed my ability to make more succinct and clearer arguments, showing clearly what evidence I am relying on to make my points.
The program of events ensured that the various talks and socials were well spread throughout the entirety of the vacation scheme. Also, the structure of 2 weeks in one department then 1 week in another is perfect, as it ensures that we have the opportunity to get properly involved in the work of one department during 2 weeks, beyond the point, of just settling in, but combined with the opportunity to see a different area of the time so as to make a better overall insight into life at the firm. A point of improvement would be that the people giving the talks were expecting to present for a time different to what was scheduled on our timetables on more than one occasion, such that talks sometimes went on longer than planned.
The atmosphere was welcoming and friendly throughout the insight, with a very positive and supportive atmosphere from the teams and an easygoing atmosphere amongst the vacation scheme students. Whilst it could feel pressurized due to the knowledge that the work we were doing had a direct impact on our prospects of a future at the firm, this is only natural given the importance of thorough feedback from supervisors to Graduate Recruitment to ensure that the most suitable people are selected. That's the reason why I rate the atmosphere as an 8/10, because it could not be regarded as positive at all times but this is not a criticism and is of course a necessary consequence of a scheme which could lead to being offered a job.
There were talks about all of the practice areas, as well as other important useful presentations about topics like how to present oneself in a professional environment. In addition, my supervisors dedicated a significant proportion of their time to advising me on how to improve my work and develop my skills. One comment would be that an introductory session on how to use legal and business research resources would have been useful, as I haven't used the UK legal resources in over a year so an introductory refresher would have been very useful.
The insight was very useful as the tasks which I was engaged in were typical trainee tasks so gave me a good indication of the nature of the work which I would be doing. Also, the opportunities to sit in on calls etc. helped to understand the typical work of associates/partners. However, the fact that we were able to leave at 5.30pm every day meant that it was difficult to appreciate fully how it feels to work the long hours which the full time lawyers work.
The culture felt reasonably visible and present at all times, given that we were working in close proximity to the other lawyers, so it was easy to get a feel for how colleagues interact with each other and what sort of workload is expected of them. However, this was mainly judged by observation, because our role as vacation scheme students is very temporary so I doubt that we were interacted with in the same way as the full time lawyers interact with each other.
It would not have been possible for either Graduate Recruitment or the teams which I worked in to provide us with any additional information which would have helped me more in terms of deciding if the career was right for me. However, the work which we were doing was naturally not on the exact same level as what trainees do at the firm, still less associates, so therefore it would not be possible to know with 100% certainty at this point that spending my whole working life at a city law firm would be right for me. I would only be able to know this for definite after an extended period as a full time employee at the firm. Nevertheless, the content of the scheme was as helpful as it possibly could have been.
The salary was £400 per week.
There were the right number of socials with other employees of the firm so that we could ask questions and build connections, as any more networking sessions would have been quite tiring and would not have been as useful to us, given how easy it can become to ask the same questions over and over again with different people. In addition, Graduate Recruitment's offer to set up coffee meetings with lawyers from practice areas which we had a particular interest was very helpful - I went for coffee with a tax associate and felt that this really added to my awareness of the practice area.
The atmosphere at all of the socials was very good, with very friendly and easy-to-talk-to employees of the firm attending. In addition, the quantity and variety of food and drink provided was great. The scavenger hunt in particular was a very enjoyable team-building activity, and if there had been the opportunity to do one more activity like that, e.g. Escape Rooms, that would have been perfect.
There was very little information provided about other activities (assuming that pro bono work doesn't count as an activity). I found out that there was a choir because I was interesting in joining it and messaged Graduate Recruitment to enquire, but unfortunately the insight took place during the choir's summer break period. Personally, I would have liked to hear more about the different societies which exist within the firm.
Without a doubt. It is the best vacation scheme that I have ever done in terms of quality and variety of work provided, as well as in terms of support and guidance from supervisors. The 2 week + 1 week structure was also perfect, and I believe that all firms offering three week vacation schemes should adopt such a structure, as opposed to 3 weeks in one practice area or 1 week in three different practice area. It has been the best insight I have every experienced into the life of a trainee lawyer.
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
Central London and City
28th July 2017
Less than £ 10,000