In the first week (London Week) I was working 12 hour days (including the "socials") which was a very draining experience.
In the second and third week (regional week) I was given little work and often spent time browsing the internet on my phone whilst waiting for new work to be given to me. [Note: I had actively asked for more work]
Being 1 of 100 people on the vacation scheme made it feel like I was another cog in the machine.
Additionally, most of the work I did in weeks 2 and 3 wasn't live work so it felt like I wasn't doing anything important or valuable for the Company during the Vacation Scheme
Didn't find out which seat we were in/hours for the regional week until the Friday of the first week.
When given a piece of work to do it was rarely explained in sufficient detail and feedback was always brief (if given)
Difficult if in a regional office to obtain sufficient support.
When work was provided in the regional weeks it was a good opportunity to experience practical law.
The London Week (first week) did help develop commercial awareness - especially with the Client Visit. Additionally, developed an understanding of technology in the first week due to numerous presentations and tasks by experts.
Structure was ok.
Although tough,I think it was necessary to bring the regional offices to London for the first week as travel between offices is common in practice.
The differentiation between 'Business of Law' in week 1 and practical law in weeks 2 and 3 was a good mix but didn't work out well as we were given little work in weeks 2 and 3.
CMS outsources the running of the London Week 1 to a company called Mind Cubed and they made the atmosphere unpleasant.
Whilst listening to talks, Mind Cubed representatives were known to monitor and report on your body language which made even simple tasks feel pressurised.
Additionally, despite the focus being on 'collaboration', the atmosphere felt competitive. As we were watched by HR/CMS staff/Mind Cubed almost 24/7 everyone tried to prove themselves - even at lunch one couldn't relax.
The firm spent a huge amount of money on each candidate for the vacation scheme (pay checks, travel, accommodation) but also on training as we had lots of expert speakers and a 'Strengths Profile' training session.
However, HR was supposed to organise 'feedback calls' regardless of whether you received a TC offer or not. I received an offer but never got a feedback call and this appeared to be the same amongst most candidates.
I gained an insight as to what life would be like both in the London and a regional office. Being with the firm for 3 weeks (rather than the normal 1 or 2) meant I could properly experience the culture of the firm but also understand what my day-to-day life would be as a Trainee.
In Week 1 we had numerous talks re the culture of the firm. Post-Merger they were keen to push that the culture was working smoothly but networking with CMS staff appeared to suggest otherwise in certain circumstances.
The most useful way to gain an insight into the culture was simply working with the firm for 3 weeks and I can say I definitely know the culture.,
The experience didn't change my mind re solicitor in a commercial/corporate firm.
It did however show me I wouldn't like to work in a regional office of a Company based in London. The regional office was far smaller than I imagined and the opportunities were lacking compared to the HQ (perhaps unsurprisingly)
Paid approx £350 a week and travel was reimbursed
We had networking with most of the departments on the evening with the first day.
Additionally, each task we did in the First Week was monitored by CMS staff/HR/Mind Cubed so you could build up relationships and network with those present
Networking opportunities within the office (i.e. working with different people)
Though, commendable that Duncan (essentially runs the company) networked with nearly all the candidates through out the week
In the London Week (first week) we had a Charity Dinner which was fun and a nice way to meet people from different offices.
In the regional week, HR attended the social as did trainees. I feel that HR should not be present at socials as it detracts from obtaining honest answers about the firm.
When networking with trainees one had the opportunity to ask these sorts of questions but it was down to you to ask said questions or search through the intranet to discover the sporting activities etc.
The social side of life wasn't pushed aside from the CMS Football World Cup
Depends what type of law firm you want to work for.
I'd recommend the insight for someone who wants to work for a magic circle/city law firm in the London Office.
For those looking to work in the regions, I would not recommend this experience. The emphasis is too much on the London HQ and it was felt the regions were left to themselves. I'd recommend looking for a firm based in that region themselves.