It's a very well structured and organised placement and it is clear that the firm has invested heavily in our development. The first week in London was a very enjoyable start. It's good that the 2 weeks are spent in one department so you feel as though you can experience a variety of work within that department.
During the first week in London I felt extremely valued as it was obvious how much time, money, effort and planning had gone into giving us the best start to the placement as possible. My team in the Edinburgh office have also made me feel valued by introducing themselves and organising a small social event outwith work to allow me to integrate into the team.
I received a lot of support during the first week and was constantly made aware of the support avaliable throughout my placement from the graduate recruitment team. However in my team in Edinburgh, my supervisor is also my buddy, so I felt as though I didn't really have a trainee buddy which would have been useful. My supervisor is great but it would have been good to have a trainee like the other vac scheme students do who I could ask more informal questions to.
The skills which I have learned will definitely help me in my degree and when I go onto a traineeship. I've learned loads about commercial awareness, the business of law, sector specialisms and artifical intelligence which I knew very little about before the placement. I've also learned how to conduct myself in an office environment, research skills and how to be bold and ask people for work when I need something to do.
The placement was almost perfectly structured with week 1 in London and then 2 weeks in the office and we were given a lot of information (including an induction in London) before the placement began. The only recomendation/idea that I could give is that it might be a good idea to set the interns an ongoing research task to do during the placement for times when they might be quiet. This is something which I have done in other placements and it works really well for times in between other pieces of work so that there is always something to do.
The atmosphere is generally great and it is clear that the vast majority of employees at CMS really love working for the firm. Everyone works hard but also there's a lot of social events like watching Wimbledon in the reception or going for a few drinks after work with your team. However of course, the vacation scheme students are all a bit nervous as they are aware that they are being assessed for a training contract!
I cannot fault the firm's investment in my personal training and development. It outshines that of every other firm which I can see. The week in London is a prime example of that- the week was jam packed with talks, world class expert panels, activities, and visits with extremely high level clients which they trusted us to manage. It was a great way to start the programme knowing that the firm wants us to be there.
I feel that the types of tasks which I have been given within my department are really similar to that of a first seat trainee. I feel like after the placement I understand what it would be like to work here. In London, we got the chance to speak with a variety of CMS employees including solicitors, trainees, secretaries and paralegals and hear their stories and experiences which definitely helped me to gain an understanding of working with the firm.
The company culture was constantly reiterated throughout the week in London. We even had almost a full day on presenting our ideas on diversity and inclusion which seems to be a huge part of the firm's culture. It also didn't stop at the first week, during the time in the offices we have a conference call on diveristy and inclusion. Therefore it was always clear how much of a role this plays in the firm's culture.
It's very useful to be able to experience different areas of commercial law to that of what I had done before. I had previously worked in banking but my current placement is in corporate which I love. This has been invaluable to me as it has reinforced that there are so many different branches under commercial law so being able to experience this type of work during the day has helped me to realise that this is what I would like to do in the future.
I cannot fault the payment of £350 per week. This is roughly the same as what other firms pay for this type of experience and it is a good amount. I was reimbursed for my flights to London for the amount of £150, whereas my flights were £190 including baggage. However I understand that £150 is a decent amount and the cap stops people from going overboard, however these flights were the cheapest avaliable when I booked. However, CMS paid for our apartments and put on loads of food throughout the week which was great as it stopped us from spending- so I definitely would not complain and was happy to pay the extra on the flights.
CMS have placed a huge amount of importance on networking within the firm. During the week in London, we networked with each other, with the faculty present and we got the chance to meet our regional partners. We also meant some trainees and other staff who shared their experiences with us. Even within our offices there are a few networking events on which is great.
These opportunities were great and created an atmosphere were it felt quite natural rather than forced. The dinner with our offices during week 2 was a great event as we already knew each other through work but were able to chat more socially and freely over dinner and drinks. There are a lot of drink/food events which may not suit everyone (eg people who don't drink alcohol or have eating disorders) so it might be an idea to still put on a few of these but do another activity too (maybe an escape room or something similar to the creative painting in week 1).
I am aware that there are events which CMS organise that employees can get involved in. I know that a lot of employees took part in Glasgow PRIDE with CMS last weekend. I know that there was a football world cup. However I would like to know a bit more about the sports teams etc within the Edinburgh office because I wasn't told about them and I would definitely like to get involved!
I definitely think that the CMS Academy is the best summer vacation scheme avaliable. The investment in the scheme is definitely not matched by any other firm. The route to training contract is also clear from the offset which is really good for piece of mind. The standard of work is also superb and it is clear that the firm trusts you- that can be demonstrated in the client visit!