Vacation Scheme Candidate at Shearman & Sterling LLP

Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
London Central London and City
Review Date
Less than £ 10,000
Banking and Finance Law Commercial Law


About You
The Organisation
Everything Else


About You

Role Description

Attended a 2 week vac scheme

1. To what extent did you enjoy the insight?

The insight scheme was fantastic. The scheme provided useful informative lectures. Plus candidates received real world, challenging work that actually reflected life at Shearman. The firm also put on great events, including a private dinner at Duck & waffle, plus a cookery class. These events provided a chance to get to know everyone on the Scheme in a relaxed atmosphere. Elsewhere, Vacation Scheme students were invited to Christmas practice area events that gave you a chance to speak to people across the practice group. Further, the assessments were very different from normal assessments and definitely improve you as an applicant for future schemes.


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

I felt valued during my time on the Scheme. For example, I was invited to all department Christmas dinners and even an escape room with my team. I also had multiple 1-1 lunches with supervisors. In contrast, to other vacation schemes I felt that the firm was trying to attract you to the firm, rather than reduce numbers. The work I was given was also relevant. Moreover significant time was spent training you so that you could do it properly.


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

The people at Shearman work very long hours. Therefore, to some extent they were able to sit down and explain things more thoroughly than at most firms. At many other places, the desire to get out the door at 6pm takes over and means you are often left without guidance. I was also given opportunity to talk through my work and get feedback. This did not occur in every instance of work though due to sudden urgent tasks emerging for the lawyers.


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

I strongly believe that the quality of work and level of knowledge required was obvious to see. I saw the hard working mentality and attention to detail that was required by the lawyers. The assessments also offered a challenge that really tested your various skill sets. Perhaps, an example of a strong answer after the assessments were completed or more clarity of what was being looked for on the assessments may be beneficial.


The Organisation

5. How well structured was the insight?

The Vacation Scheme was well structured. The calendar entries were already in place and everyone was aware of the assessments, their trainee buddy and their supervisor well in advance. The work that was delegates was also clearly tailored to simulate typical trainee tasks too. Perhaps some improvement may be made in work variation. For instance, in teams that involved a lot of research, applicants could be kept busy for hours on research tasks. In other teams arguably more initiative and as hoc requests were needed to fill the time. Additionally, 1-2 department events conflicted with Graduate Recruitment events. Therefore, maybe a quick discussion with practice area about planned conferences, seminars etc could be useful.


6. How was the general atmosphere during your insight?

I loved my time at the firm. I found it very welcoming and very honest. The firm expects high standards of work and appreciates the pressure staff are on. It does not try to pretend that this is a 9-5 job. I also think that the firm was clear that nobody is a perfect candidate. Therefore, do not be disillusioned if you make mistakes. In contrast, other vac schemes can be quite competitive and seem like point scoring exercises at times.


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

The firm put a lot of money into entertaining us and making us feel welcome. Partners billable hours are very valuable at firms like Shearman. Therefore the amount of time and attention that they gave us was impressive. Moreover, we were allowed to do actual work and new pro bono initiatives were created- just so we could see what actual pro bono work was like at the firm.


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 definitely got a sense of life at the firm and the different options, opportunities and problems that trainees face. Moreover, we got to meet people on international secondments first hand via Skype calls. The real world work also gave a realistic portrayal of trainee tasks. The sense of impending deadlines & client pressures was also truthful. Perhaps, a Christmas Scheme is less realistic simply because of the large number of events that you are invited to though.


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

The Scheme definitely gave me a sense of the company culture. After meeting a lot of individuals you get to observe patterns in the lawyer behaviours & approaches to work. The 2 weeks was also enough time to meet lots of different people and experience 2 quite distinct seats. The honesty in lectures was also a good indication of the real culture, rather than a sales pitch.


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

The Scheme confirmed to me that I wanted to work for a US firm. I had previous vac scheme, paralegal and non-law experience though, so it could easily be put in context. I think in general though it was a fairly accurate portrayal of typical trainee life at Shearman. I think you would be well set to join the firm or decline an offer either way.


Other Information

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

The pay was generous and enough to cover expenses of living in London. I think with long train rides though from up North and hotels in central London, then you may be breaking even at the end. You were also given lots of food etc so did not need to worry about this aspect.

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

There were lots of opportunities to network. For instance, there were team meals. Drinks arranged with trainees. A cookery class arranged with trainees. You were given a supervisor & trainee buddy, plus an extensive tour of the office. I was also given extensive periods of 1 to 1 coffee catch ups with partners, who I emailed because I was interested in their work.


13. How were the networking/ social event opportunities?

Networking see above. The social events were phenomenal and quite unique experiences. The standards drinks were there of course, but there were also plenty of lunches and four after work events. There was also an event just for the vac schemers with a generous tab which was a nice relaxing time at the end of the first week.


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

Pro bono was heavily mentioned. However, outside of work committees were not really discussed in much depth compared to other places. The committees were definitely referenced and information was available, but I did not receive an invitation for touch rugby or anything! I think that is more reflective of the nature of the firm though, work life balance is perhaps more on the work side than say a top 50 international firm.


15. Would you recommend this insight to a friend?

I definitely would recommend this insight to anyone. The work was challenging, the assessments were innovative and a departure from the norm too. The social events were also so funny and the group that Shearman assembled was really pleasant. I think that what you experience is a truthful reflection and will make me a stronger candidate in the future.