Vacation Scheme for Training Contract Application
I enjoyed the vacation scheme at DLA Piper more than any other work experience I have completed. This is mainly because the 3 weeks were very busy. We had scheduled activities at least once, but usually more per day so I never felt as if I was sitting around with nothing to do. It also meant we got to know the other people on the scheme quite well. It was extremely well organised.
I have had many work experiences where I felt like a burden, or that I was annoying people I was working with but this was not the case at DLA. My supervisors and teams thought of lots of things for me to do to keep me occupied, and then gave me feedback about how they would use the work I had done.
We had a line manager in each of our departments who set us goals at the beginning of the week and then reviewed whether we had met the goals at the end of the week which I found really helpful so I had things to aim towards.
One improvement would be that it would be nice to have information about how the end of the scheme (finding out about whether we had secured the TC) would work earlier on, just to ease nerves a bit.
I wouldn't say the skills I developed would help me in my degree or academic study at all (had already completed the GDL when on the scheme), but I definitely developed workplace skills including networking, confidence and more practical skills like how to structure research notes in a non-academic way etc.
The vacation scheme was extremely well structured. The entire first week was an 'induction' with all of the UK offices in London, which could have become repetitive but the speakers and sessions we had were generally engaging.
Then the next 2 weeks are spent in 2 departments. Different people assigned me tasks to do, and we had talks every morning, and sometimes afternoons too from the firms leaders so I did not ever feel like I had nothing to do.
We all seemed to be busy on the scheme which for me is a really good thing. We had lots of opportunities to interact with other vac schemers over lunch and at talks which was really nice. People at the firm seemed genuinely interested and happy that we were there.
There was a slight nervous tension before we were told if we had secured TCs because it's done on the last day of the scheme, which has its positives (not having to wait/ re-interview) but also its negatives. Also sometimes the social events in the evenings felt slightly too structured although with large groups it is hard to have a more relaxed feeling.
Personal development was good on the scheme. We had feedback from our line managers to assess if we had met our goals for the week which was very helpful. We also had talks from all the main practice areas which was good if we were not sitting in that team over the scheme.
It might have been good to have a small session on training for researching and how to use the systems.
The insight was a good length, we got to sit in two departments and do actual work for the lawyers which gave us a good impression of what work would be like. We also had a trainee buddy so they could tell us on a more informal level their experiences.
Again talks from other practice areas were very informative.
I think you can't really understand a culture until you spend some time at a firm and the 3 weeks was a good eye opener. We got to see how 2 different teams worked. We had talks from other parts of the firm like pro-bono and their Diversity and Inclusion team.
I think I knew that law was definitely something I wanted to do, but in terms of practice areas the work I completely gave me a good overview of the different types of work lawyers do day to day even within one area of law. Also talking to different people at different stages of their career and how they feel about culture/ work life balance etc was really beneficial for me.
We were paid £400 per week for a 3 week scheme. We were given free lunch every day, breakfast every morning for the first week and dinner in the first week too.
Those traveling to London for the first week induction had their accommodation paid for too.
We had talks from different practice leaders every morning, as well as dinners with different partners twice in the scheme.
We had networking with trainees over lunch and a trainee buddy too.
We had a supervisor in each team we sat in and their teams were very welcoming to me.
The only issue is that with a group of 100 (first week) and then 40 (second and third week) there isn't enough people to have small conversations with (understandably) and so at a lot of events one employee would be surrounded by lots of vac schemers and it seemed hard to speak.
We had talks from pro-bono and diversity and inclusion which a lot of employees seem to get involved in.
On the social side (eg sports etc) I didn't see anything like that but then it may not have been the right time.
Yes - it was the best organised scheme I have done, I felt valued in terms of personally and also financially. The firm seem to invest a lot of time and effort into making the scheme enjoyable for everyone. It was the only scheme where I haven't had moments of thumb-twiddling and trying to look busy - there was always lots of be getting on with.