The scheme surpassed my expectations due to the first week which was dedicated to the 'business of law'. I learned a great deal about commercial law trends, CMS's strategy and the skills required to be a successful solicitor. The following two weeks of work experience were less intense and stimulating, with only sporadic periods of work. That said, those two weeks were still useful, giving a more unfiltered insight into the firm.
The sheer level of resources invested during the first week gave me the impression that the vac schemers were valued. There appeared to be a genuine desire to help us to develop into good future trainees, rather than the scheme being purely about assessment. Numerous activities were organised, such as a 'future of law' panel with industry experts and a business simulation exercise with actors.
One area for improvement is feedback. Despite the hours spent completing activities and work tasks so far, I have yet to receive feedback (currently halfway through the third week). I understand that some people have been given feedback, however, it appears that they are in the minority. During the first week in particular observers followed you around and made lots of notes. It seems a missed opportunity to not share some feedback with participants before the end of the scheme.
The information that I have learnt will put me in good stead for future training contract applications or a training contract with CMS. I had done a lot of online research, however, there is no substitute for speaking with lawyers face-to-face. It has been particularly useful to learn more about the different practice areas.
The first week was incredibly structured; it was run like a military operation. In contrast, the second and third weeks could have perhaps done with a little more structure. In my personal experience, the onus has been on me to chase work, rather than colleagues being attentive and giving me things to do. I'm happy to ask people for work, however, it would have been nice if my trainee buddies and supervisor had taken the initiative a bit more.
Overall, the atmosphere has been very friendly. People have said that the atmosphere is much less dog-eat-dog than other vacation schemes. I suspect that this is because the ratio of training contract spaces to participants is quite favourable.
I would have liked to have spent time in two different teams, rather than one team for two weeks. A few other people seem to feel the same way. It would be great to have the opportunity to do so if you find somebody willing to swap with you. On a more positive note, the tasks you complete give you a decent indication of what a trainee would do in that seat.
No stone was left unturned in the first week. The talks, group activities, the client visit, etc. should give anyone a very clear idea as to whether commercial law is for them. In addition, spending time in the office afterwards showed the realities of the job. Personally, the scheme has given me much more confidence in my decision to pursue this career path.
£350 per week and accommodation provided for free during the first week in London. The accommodation was smart and within walking distance of the office. We have yet to be given information about travel expenses, which perhaps suggests that they're not covered. Whether travel is covered or not, I'm happy with what we receive.
In the first week there was an evening meal which involved presentations from a couple of CMS's CSR partners. In the second and third weeks there was another dinner, an opportunity to join in on a weekly sport activity after work and drinks on the final Friday. Adequate in my opinion.