I very much enjoyed the vacation scheme, especially working in such a welcoming, interesting and fun team in ICM. It was also great to get to know the other participants, and I especially enjoyed the team activities we completed, both law-related and otherwise. I think we were all made to feel very welcome at the firm.
I felt that I couldn't provide much useful help to the team that I was in beyond a few bits of pro-bono research. That said, I felt like people were really invested in helping me to understand concepts, were never impatient with me and were always very happy to have a chat – I think it's necessarily because of the fact that I was still a student that it was difficult for me to bring great value to the team.
I received a lot of support from a variety of people in ICM, especially from my supervisor but also from other people on the floor, who were always happy to take time out of their schedules to help me. The grad recruitment team were also helpful in providing advice about the TC and have continued to advise after the end of the scheme.
I think the most valuable thing I gained from the vac scheme was a really solid basis of law work experience and general career nouse. Though this might not be super helpful in my degree, it will undoubtedly be when I graduate. In any case, skills of close reading and research will be useful both now and beyond.
I felt that overall the vac scheme was well structured, wit h interesting and varied sessions scheduled across the two weeks. I would have welcomed even more of these sessions, just because due to the challenging nature of the work in ICM I found that I was sometimes at a bit of a loose end.
Generally I thought the atmosphere was really positive, especially when the participants got to know each other. At times it did tend a little towards the competitive, which perhaps is only natural, but I definitely enjoyed getting to know the group and feel I made some good friends throughout the two weeks.
I got the sense that A&O invest in their potential trainees a great deal, and certainly felt very well treated throughout the scheme. The fact that the firm's managing partner even came to speak to us showed that they take their recruitment process seriously and are committed to attracting people to the company.
I feel we were definitely immersed in the daily life of the firm, at least in situation – being integrated in a team of lawyers was a great experience. In terms of work, I would have maybe enjoyed a few more tasks (even simulations) that helped me to better understand the work in ICM.
I feel got a good insight into A&O's culture, and it certainly lived up to its reputation of being a friendly firm. I also appreciated the insight into the firm's efforts to be eco-friendly, including its use of only reusable food vessels etc. Speaking to lots of lawyers at different professional stages also gave me a good view of the company's culture.
I've decided to take up a training contract with A&O, so with that in mind the vacation scheme was a brilliant route towards that career path. I definitely experienced enough of the firm to make an assessed decision. The people I met in particular, who I felt were quite similar to myself, greatly influenced my decision in taking up the contract.
I was really pleased to be paid for an experience which I consider really valuable and probably would have done anyway had it not been paid. That said, the salary really helped to cover transport costs that I otherwise may have struggled to meet so it might not have been feasible to undertake this vacation scheme without some kind of financial incentive.
Yes, there were lots, and people were also very helpful in organising coffee meet-ups for me if I wanted to ask questions in more detail. Various (very enjoyable) socials also provided great networking opportunities and the chance to hear about what solicitors were up to further down the professional line.
The social events were really fun – I particularly enjoyed the cooking workshop. It was a good way of interacting with other people on the scheme (potentially future fellow trainees) and also meeting current trainees and other firm members. The only thing I would say is that in the hot-desking networking/Q&A event with current trainees, I found it quite hard to get any questions in and felt the format was not as well suited to more retiring types.
Yes, I went to a choir rehearsal with a member of the DSF team, and learned more about various other activities. It was good to see that A&O employees find time to take a break during the day despite having busy schedules. Friday night drinks in my team seemed to be somewhat of a tradition!
Yes, I would definitely recommend the vacation scheme. I had a really positive interview experience at A&O and that mood was carried through to the scheme itself, where I generally found everyone extremely welcoming – and, unexpectedly, quite normal, though obviously very intelligent! The scheme is a great insight into what it's like to be a city lawyer, and after participating, it would be difficult to refuse the opportunity!