I greatly enjoyed the insight. The firm put on its best face across all areas (both in terms of the associates and trainees I was working with, the members of the graduate recruitment team I met, the trainee buddy I was assigned). It was the most enjoyable out of the several vacation schemes I had completed to date.
I felt valued, for two reasons. Firstly, my supervising associate, despite being extremely busy and often working until the early hours of the morning, dedicated large chunks of his time in between work and meetings to answering questions that I had about the commercial and legal backdrop to the transactions he worked on (which was very technical). A wide range of individuals were happy to drop by and give me work, which was unexpected. I was also stopped from assuming more mundane tasks because they were largely unrepresentative of what made working in that department interesting at a more senior level.
Secondly, the events put on throughout the scheme involved a number of individuals (often quite senior - including partners and members of the firm's Innovation team), as well as a guest speaker.
I received a lot of guidance and support. On the professional side, I had access to the secretaries assigned to the team I was working with, the supervising associate with who I shared an office, and the firm's know-how system. In terms of information more generally, the firm was happy to schedule a range of coffee talks on its initiatives, as well as providing each candidate with a trainee buddy for more general questions.
My experience helped me in two ways. Firstly, I further identified the typical mistakes that can be made by a trainee at a law firm, and came to appreciate - by working closely and watching the working process of an associate - how supervisors work and want others' work to be delivered and presented. Secondly, I discovered a great amount about a particular niche of capital markets that further researched in my own time, and will hopefully explore during my training contract.
The insight was very well structured. The main events were communicated on the first day and added (through an Outlook invitation) to each vacation scheme candidate's calendars. Coffees and meetings also communicated well in time. The scheme itself made the most of its two weeks, combining several near-free workdays with social events (one of which was between the vacation scheme candidates and graduate recruitment, one between the vacation scheme candidates and trainees, and one between the vacation scheme candidates and partners), talks (on both practice areas and the firm's tech/innovation initiatives), and other drinks/networking events.
Very positive. A large part of the assessment had already passed, so the vacation scheme candidates all seems relaxed and friendly. The people I worked with were fantastic, as were the graduate recruitment team, who made a genuine effort to get to know the vacation schemer candidates and who were present at all the events (instead of relying on others to do this for them). The lack of formal end-of-scheme assessments really made the end positive and light-hearted instead of tense and stressful.
Formal IT training on the firm's document management and search systems was provided on the first day of the scheme. I was actively asked to work on a variety of tasks within the group/team I was sitting in. I was kept from doing more mundane tasks, and was given time to do additional research on my own initiative using the firm's considerable resources (that are not accessible elsewhere).
I was allowed to come in and leave as early as I liked, so I was able to witness how busy the office was across a variety of times. I was allowed to listen in on conference calls, was copied into client emails, and was often given important, time-sensitive tasks (such as tracking signatures or highlighting documents that met certain criteria).
The insight scheme was very helpful, as I got a chance to have long discussions with individuals who worked at various levels and in various functions within the firm, including partners and business support staff. I was introduced to the firm's wellbeing and flexible working schemes early on. I was also impressed by the fact that the main vacation scheme task for attendees (preparing a presentation that would solve a particular business problem faced by the firm's sponsored charity) was used to showcase the firm's charitable/pro bono commitments.
The scheme informed my future choice of seats for the training contract, and confirmed that I made the right choice in wishing to commit to the career of a commercial solicitor long-term.
Yes - the following:
Cooking and dinner event with other trainees and members of the graduate recruitment team
Friday social drinks
Social event with trainees
Dinner with partners
In addition, the firm allowed vacation scheme attendees to arrange coffee with any trainee in any department based off their interest in that department's work.
Excellent. What was particularly encouraging was the fact that the students attending often stayed late for additional socialising after an event had finished.
Yes. The scheme is short enough to avoid repetitive events and clashes with other schemes, yet long enough to contain enough information about working as a commercial solicitor more generally and about working at Allen & Overy more specifically. I would also like to note that Allen & Overy seems like a fantastic firm to work at more generally, which makes the scheme enjoyable in its own right - none of the events seem forced because those presenting want to be there and do care about showing the firm in its best light.