2018 UK Summer Internship Programme
Monday 25 June - Friday 13 July
The DLA Graduate Recruitment team have done a full overhaul of the Vacation Scheme programme (now renamed the Internship Programme) in their efforts to bring DLA Piper into the modern era. The first week is an induction week, with 4 days in London and then the final Friday is an induction into the office that you applied for.
(For those concerned about cost: DLA Piper paid for our hotel for the 4 nights (Sunday to Wednesday night) and fed us breakfast, lunch and either provided or reimbursed us for dinner)
The first 4 days were packed with activity. All the interns from the UK offices were involved, and we were encouraged to network with everyone. This section of the comment has been removed
by a member of the RateMyPlacement Team because
it did not meet our site terms and conditions, the co-CEO, gave the first talk and Sandra Wallace, UK Managing Partner, closed the induction. This gives just an inkling into the investment that the firm is willing to put into its future and these are just two examples of the many speakers who hold high management positions but still found the time to give us in-depth talks around their experiences at the firm and answers to our questions. There were also activities on presentation skills and pro bono projects, which meant that the days were still relatively interactive.
The following two weeks are where we worked in the office, one practice group per week. There were still a lot of activities planned during those two weeks, such as Practice Insight sessions which focused on specific practice areas. There are also social activities interspersed between the work, to give you networking opportunities and light breaks.
This overview gives an indication into how it was enjoyable in different ways. Overall, the internship has been mentally exhausting, with a lot of information to absorb and the personal pressure of making a good impression - but I have got exactly what I want from the programme, which was to learn more about the firm and about work as commercial lawyer and to develop my skills.
As mentioned, it was clear that DLA Piper had invested a lot of money and valuable time into our internship. After the induction week, this trend continued. The teams in each practice group were friendly and totally willing to spend time not just giving work but talking you through its context and how it fits into an overall matter. You were made aware that it was live work that, with some adjustment, would contribute to the overall process and those that gave me the work also gave detailed feedback on a lot of my pieces. There is a concentrated effort to give you work that a trainee would do, from drafting to marking up templates. When there was less work available, someone gave me a drafting exercise that, while not live work, was again exactly the work a trainee would do, just so that I could still continue to learn and develop. The frequent social events with partners and trainees made us feel valued in a different way, as they were clearly trying to integrate us into the firm properly, rather than keep us at a distance until we were offered a training contract.
The Graduate Recruitment team made it clear that they were a point of call for support, if we needed it. They made sure to point us in the right direction, detailing different ways to make the most of the internship.
We were also assigned line managers (supervisors) for each week. Often they were busy, but the rest of the teams were always willing to take on their role and it did not make much difference as we were encouraged to interact with and gain work from the whole team anyway. For each piece of work, there was always a note to ask them any questions that we needed to, and many interns would ask a nearby trainee to review their work before they submitted it to their line manager. There was a very approachable atmosphere and often people would approach me of their own accord to check in.
The internship was, according to others that had done previous schemes, incredibly structured. Either few or no other firms offer the kind of induction week that we had and it was no mean feat that the Grad Recruitment team managed to organise the speakers that it did, considering the work that they have to do. They kept us updated on events and sessions, using our calendars so that events would be easy to keep track of. Nothing seemed last minute or rushed. The structure of the programme had clearly been thought out to give us a bit of a crash course on the firm and the chance to get to know our fellow interns before diving into the work.
The general atmosphere was encouraging - everyone involved wanted you to do well, there were no attempts to 'trip you up' or give unnecessarily difficult work. The interns got along well and were a good support network during the scheme, and there was no overly competitive hostility. Ultimately, we were encouraged to be ourselves and reassured that not getting a training contract at the end would not be the end of the world.
As mentioned, there were some workshops during the induction week which aimed to improve our presentation skills and the way that we interact in the office. We were also given a presentation task, for which we had several days to prepare (outside of work). On this task, we were given feedback on both our presentation skills and the way that we answered questions.
The internship gave a good insight into trainee life, as there was an effort to give us trainee work - occasionally, trainees were not available, and we were given the work that the trainee would otherwise do. The fact that the work was often explained with regards to the context of the practice group and the client meant that we understood better how we would fit within the firm and how our tasks would contribute, which is far better than churning out the work and not understanding what the ultimate impact was.
DLA Piper is known as the 'big friendly giant' and nothing that I experienced disproved that notion. There is a focus on collaboration and co-operation, which feeds into a more united culture.
Since we were interns, we still (rightfully) made a bit more effort to stay formal and polite, but the general working day did give an insight into how people acted with regards to the 'hierarchy'. It was clear that people could feel relaxed around each other, regardless of role - that isn't to say that trainees were totally informal with partners, but no-one is treated as inferior to anyone else and everyone felt comfortable enough to have conversations with anybody else.
We were paid per week. The induction week in London was essentially paid for - travel to and from London reimbursed; food provided and accommodation paid for. They do not reimburse travel or accommodation during the weeks you work at the regional office.
Outside of work, some examples include: lunch with partners; diversity breakfast to talk to people involved in ISIS (LGBT support) and other diversity programmes, such as women in law; informal dinner with trainees; dinner with the previous graduate class.
These events were hosted in a more informal environment, so that we were comfortable with asking questions that we would not otherwise ask in the office, where understandably everyone is often busy and where we want to engage with the work itself.
Yes. We learned about the choir and the football team, as well as a touch rugby team started by a trainee. Several interns got involved with a WIN event, which allowed them to meet clients, and there were invitations to a 'Sparkle Ball' as a follow up from the diversity breakfast. We were also given detailed insight into the pro bono work that DLA Piper do during the induction week in London.