The First Year Insight Programme was extremely enjoyable. As this is the first year that they are holding this programme, I was very impressed by the amount of effort that has gone into the planning and organisation, particularly in terms of the workshops and materials provided during them. Everyone at the firm was also extremely welcoming.
The firm took great care of us by constantly providing food, and even provided accommodation in a nearby hotel for those of us who were not from London. There were cloakrooms to put our belongings that we did not need for the day, and there was a very nice formal dinner on the second night.
There were many interactive workshops, including an employability (covering CV skills) workshop and a responsible business workshop, just to name a few. A fair amount of guidance was given since it was a First Year Workshop, and there were a large number of students who did not study Law at university.
This First Year Insight Programme was particularly useful because it not only gave us an insight into the firm, but also helped us to develop skills outside of our degree studies, such as getting to negotiate in a mock deal. We also managed to develop our public speaking skills (but never in a forceful way), as there were many group activities for us to do so.
The insight was very well structured. There was a printed programme for all, including photographs, names and universities of all the students who attended. The times were clearly stated, and there were email reminders during the programme to remind us of when we had to be in the next day.
As the group was very large (around 80 people), it was difficult to get to know everyone but everyone that I met was very friendly. The networking sessions with trainees during meal times was very helpful in gaining an insight to the culture of the firm, and all the trainees were very forthcoming with their answers.
The firm definitely invested a lot into this programme. Many of the speakers for the talks were partners or heads of departments, one of whom had a client meeting straight after but still took the time to come and share his experiences with us. All of them were patient with questions too.
There were lots of talks and activities on the various sectors of DLA, and we were given different perspectives on life at the firm as well -- our speakers ranged from partners to trainees and this gave us an idea of career progression in the firm. It would be good if we could shadow a solicitor or trainee for a while, but it is understandable that we did not get to do so as we were such a big group and this was a relatively short programme.
After being exposed to so many members of the firm, one could tell the culture of the company, even if indirectly. By asking the trainees what made them join DLA and how they found it so far, my experience definitely did not differ from what they were saying at all. However, with that said, it is always difficult to truly understand company culture if you are not immersed completely in the work yourself.
The content covered was very relevant to what first years would like to find out from a law firm, ranging from pro bono matters to sector group focus. I have a better idea of what is involved a city lawyer's career, and one of the questions raised after a talk involved comparing a solicitor's job to that of a barrister or an in-house lawyer.
Yes, there were many opportunities to network and meet other employees of the firm, of all different levels. There were many trainees during the more informal meals where we got to meet trainees at various stages, from those who just joined the firm to those who were on their last seats.
There were many networking and social event opportunities. There were formal networking sessions scheduled into the programme, such as the practice group speed networking session where we could ask trainees more about their respective sectors. However, there were also a few lunch and dinner networking sessions too. We had a formal social dinner organised by the firm on the second night.
As DLA Piper will be moving to new premises very soon, there were talks letting us know more about the facilities available there such as a gym. Speaking to one of the trainees during the networking sessions, he shared more about his experiences with social activities that the firm organises for everyone.
I would definitely recommend this insight to a friend because it has honestly helped me to develop and enhance many skills. As most vacation schemes are only available to second year students, this is a very good stepping stone to that; there were many practice activities that are similar to assessment day activities, which I found to be particularly helpful.