CMS Vacation Scheme Student at CMS

Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
London Greater London
Review Date
Less than £ 10,000
Property Law

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About You
The Organisation
Everything Else


About You

1. To what extent did you enjoy the insight?

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]


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2. To what extent did you feel valued during your time at the company or firm?

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


3. How much guidance/support did you receive during the insight?

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.


4. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and information you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?

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.


The Organisation

5. How well structured was the insight?

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.


6. How was the general atmosphere during your insight?

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.


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7. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?

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.


8. To what extent did the insight help you to understand what it would be like to have a full time role with the company or firm?

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.


9. How much did the insight help you in understanding the company culture?

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.,


10. How valuable was the content in helping you to decide on your future career path?

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)


Other Information

11. Were you paid or reimbursed adequately for this experience?

Paid approx £350 a week and travel was reimbursed

12. Were there opportunities for networking and meeting other employees of the company or firm?

First Week
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

Second/Third Week
Networking opportunities within the office (i.e. working with different people)


13. How were the networking/ social event opportunities?

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.


14. Did you find out about activities that employees can get involved in outside of work?

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


15. Would you recommend this insight to a friend?

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.


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