A first year insight scheme with Allen & Overy
This was the most complete and enjoyable commercial law insight scheme I attended in my first year. All the Graduate Recruitment staff were open and willing to answer any question you had. The other candidates were also extremely friendly, creating a very good atmosphere on the scheme. All sessions were of a very high quality, and the scheme ran extremely smoothly.
All candidates on A&O First were treated very well during our time at the firm. During any contact with representatives of A&O, you were treated with respect, and any question was answered. The trainee 'buddy' system worked to make each candidate feel valued and catered for at all times during the scheme.
As much support as you wanted was available. During sessions, which were interactive, at lunch or during shadowing opportunities, someone at the firm was available to answer any questions you had. There was never any sense that you shouldn't ask a question - there was always a great deal of support available so that every query you had was answered.
The skills sessions were wide-ranging and interesting, building on conventional topics in a commercial law sense like commercial awareness, to motivational sessions and personal branding sessions, which really catered for each individual. The skills I have learnt from A&O First are certainly transferrable to all areas of my degree and my career. The sessions made me feel like I really was beginning my career as a commercial solicitor, even at this early stage.
Everything on the insight scheme ran incredibly smoothly and to time, and all of our activities were planned out by Graduate Recruitment to cater for a good few hours of work shadowing in the afternoon each day. The social on the first day of the scheme was great fun, and there was never a session which I wanted to end.
This was probably the stand out aspect of the scheme. You would expect such a large firm to be quite daunting and conservative, however everyone at the firm was so open and welcoming, and you never felt out of place at any point. This scheme completely changed any preconceptions I had of A&O, and has encouraged me to think differently about which law firms I apply to in the future.
Candidates were treated in a way comparable to a trainee. We had personal branding sessions, work shadowing sessions and commercial awareness sessions which showed that the firm wanted you to be successful. Even down to the little touches, such as personalised chocolate bars on arrival, it felt like A&O felt strongly about each individual candidate
The insight scheme completely changed my preconceptions. There was ample opportunity for work shadowing, so you could engage with real work at the firm. My only criticism here would be to ensure that candidates were set up with the IT systems, even during this short period - it would've made shadowing a more realistic experience.
As mentioned previously, it showed that A&O was a completely open and welcoming firm, something which reading about the firm online does not reflect. The culture was much less intimidating than I had perceived it to be, and this was a theme consistent throughout the entire firm. All personnel were warm, welcoming and thoroughly pleasant to engage with.
I was sure that commercial law was for me before I went on First; this experience only consolidated this.
Reimbursement up to £150 for travel was provided, as was accommodation in a particularly nice hotel for the overnight stay between the 2 day scheme in April.
Candidates met people from all aspects of the firm - partners, associates, trainees, Graduate Recruitment, Fuse, and all other areas thinkable of the firm. There was opportunity to 'network' in every different aspect of the insight scheme. The best part was that none of this networking ever felt forced - everything was very natural and felt like a genuine conversation, which is something that cannot be guaranteed at insight schemes like this.
There was an opportunity to network at every point on the scheme. The social event took place at a ping pong bar, which was great fun and gave all candidates the opportunity to relax after a long day. Graduate Recruitment also attended, and this was a great thing, as it gave us all the opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level.
There was a dedicated session on pro bono activities and inclusivity, which was informative and interesting. A&O trainees have the opportunity to do a secondment internally with the pro bono and CSR team, which was an interesting opportunity to learn about. All trainees and partners we spoke to seemed to enjoy doing various things outside of work, which was good to hear.
Absolutely - it is definitely the most complete and advanced insight scheme that I have been a part of. Everything operates smoothly and is extremely relevant to your career. An added bonus is that everybody on the scheme is so friendly and personable, ensuring that your time spent with A&O is not only informative, but extremely enjoyable from a social point of view. Plus, the opportunity to be fast-tracked to interview stage for Vacation Scheme/Training Contract applications is always invaluable.