I had a really fantastic experience during the two weeks of my insight at Allen & Overy. From start to finish I felt really engaged, both professionally and academically, and I felt welcomed into the firm and valued as a member of the team. Similarly, the work was challenging but not too challenging - it was wide-ranging, and pitched at just the right level to stretch you without making you feel out of your depth.
I was made to feel very well valued. All of the members of Graduate Recruitment and the departmental members went out of their way to help and assist me, and to get me involved in really interesting projects. Similarly, positive and constructive feedback helped me to feel that I was really making a difference.
I received regular and detailed guidance and support throughout the insight at Allen & Overy, both from my departmental trainer and from HR/Graduate Recruitment. For research tasks, I was given very clear instructions, and targeted help when I needed it. My trainer always made himself available to chat through things, without being overbearing.
Skills for life! Skills such as time management, project management, team building and cooperation are invaluable and Allen & Overy created plenty of opportunities for such skills development. Key information such as that of building a network, commercial understanding and the importance of interjurisdictional work was presented effectively and clearly.
As a whole, I think the scheme was very well organised. The Vacation Scheme App meant that timetable plan information was readily available and I therefore knew at all times what I was coming up next. Furthermore A&O organised an extensive range of activities and talks, which I personally found very beneficial.
The general atmosphere was very warm and friendly; people really aren’t exaggerating when they emphasise the accessible and amazing culture of Allen & Overy. Everybody has time for you (even if you have to fit in between a few meetings!) I never felt uncomfortable in the office nor awkward to walk in and ask someone a question if I was unsure.
They invested in our personal training and development a lot. This ranged from IT sessions to understand the software that the firm uses, to talks and presentations aiming to improve our own presentation skills. The fact that we are assigned a personal 'trainer' is telling that the firm was keen not to 'supervise' us, but rather make sure that we improve our skills and effectively 'train'.
The vacation scheme is an invaluable opportunity to find out what it's like to be a trainee at A&O in terms of both workload, type of work etc but most importantly in terms of the culture, values and people who work here who make A&O such an excellent place to work at.
The culture at A&O is incredibly welcoming, which was quite surprising when you compare it to the horror stories and tales spun about Magic Circle firms in particular. Hierarchy is of course in place but in terms of actual culture it's nearly entirely absent. Partners and senior associates are more than willing to take the time to grab a coffee or have a chat about a department or a deal that you may find particularly interesting and want to know more about.
For me personally, the scheme confirmed that commercial law is what I want to do so in this sense it was very valuable! I think that the number of opportunities that remain open to you were well presented as well as the quality of the training that people receive. The emphasis on commercial awareness boils down into some seemingly very useful business training.
I was paid a generous salary to cover both accommodation and living costs during my time on the scheme.
There were multiple events where you could network with members of the firm across the spectrum, from partners to trainees. Furthermore, during my time at A&O, I was encouraged to try and build my network independently of the events by simply emailing members of teams and practice areas that I found interesting or appealing.
All events were very structured and partners, associates etc were very eager to answer any questions and get to know all the vac schemers a lot better.
Yes, I found out about an array of activities. Allen & Overy have lots of sports clubs where they play against different departments but also against clients. All the people I've spoken too have also really emphasised life outside work; my trainer went to Lords for a day during the scheme, so it seems that there is a healthy balance between work and outside work.
I would absolutely recommend this insight to a friend!
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
29th May 2018