5 Day insight scheme for first year law / second year non-law students
I really enjoyed the CMS First Steps Insight scheme, it provided me with a great introduction into the life and work of a commercial law firm, game me opportunities to network with a variety of people form the firm and they heavily invested in us throughout the scheme with personal development sessions and socials.
I felt incredibly valued during my time at CMS, we were a small group in the bristol office (5 people) which made it feel especially personal, with the Head of Early Careers personally looking after us throughout the week. The lawyers in the office all made an effort to make us feel welcome and my supervisor gave me plenty of interesting work.
I received some very good support and guidance during First Steps. We had a session with an external expert on personal/professional branding for our careers which was a very useful and interesting session, teaching us how to sell our skillsets and brand best for my future career. My supervisor associate and trainee were always willing to help, the trainee going out of her way to check how I was doing and helping me with small tasks around the office.
The skills I developed in the professional brand session will certainly assist me in my career looking forward as i learnt how to sell myself and my skills. Sitting in the real estate department I learnt how to look at leases and how due diligence works which were both helpful insights in deciding whether it is a field I would like to go into. Talking to the trainees also provided useful information for my career progression.
The insight was very well structured with a good amount of work experience, 3-4 days worth, (especially compared to other similar schemes). We also had one really great social event on one evening (a thai cooking lesson!), the Professional Brand session, lunch with trainees, a talk from the head partner and a final presentation.
The general atmosphere was very positive - welcoming, supportive, with the trainees and lawyers interested in us and available to help wherever. Everyone in the office was kind, some supervisors taking us out for lunch one day and the trainees checking up on how we were doing. We didn't feel on the sidelines but rather felt valued.
They invested in us considerably for what a first year scheme. They brought in an external consultant/specialist in professional development who led a session for us to develop our branding and self-reflection skills. He also gave us guidance on our presentation skills for an upcoming presentation we had to do. The presentation was also useful personal training as trainees offered to let us practice with them and we received useful feedback from the partner/HR.
By working within the office environment and completing typical trainee tasks for actual ongoing matters and projects I got a real sense of what it would be like to work for CMS at the office. Perhaps the work I got was not as sophisticated or technical as it may be at a higher level, but that was to be expected given our minimal legal training.
The opportunity to work amongst the lawyers, see how the interact with each other and also chat to them directly during socials and the end of the week drinks allowed me to gain a great insight into the company culture. It would probably take a longer scheme to really learn both the positive and negatives of the culture, however, as in the short week everything was especially positive.
It was useful in confirming that I wanted to go down the legal career path, and experiencing one practice area allowed me to decide if that is one I would like to sit in as a trainee in future. However, from speaking to other people on the scheme it seemed that work differs quite a lot between practice areas so you may have a different experience work-wise depending on where you sit.
Yes - lunch with trainees, a talk for the partner, a social with the early talent team and some trainees where we learnt thai cooking over some drinks, coffee catch-ups with our trainee buddy, a lunch with a couple supervisors, a few small chats around the office with different people and a final few drinks on the last day.
They were decent, I especially enjoyed the thai cooking social as it took away from the awkwardness of standing around chatting as we had something to do, but which still allowed us to network/chat to the trainees whilst doing an activity. I think it was much better than the alternative Escape Rooms that other offices did as it was a clam, relaxed, fun setting with drinks.
Found out about CMS' Football world cup, not much else.