I really enjoyed the Winter Vacation Scheme at Allen & Overy. There was a perfect mixture of presentations (on Fuse, Pro-Bono, training, future thinking - to name a few!) , tasks to complete at our desks (provided by our trainers), networking opportunities and social events. I felt a little nervous before the scheme started, but as soon as I got to the firm I realised that everyone was really friendly and helpful!
I felt very valued and appreciated at Allen & Overy. All of the employees that I met were genuinely interested in hearing about my background and route to the profession so far. Furthermore, my trainer trusted me enough to let me speak at a client training session! She helped me prepare for it, and really encouraged me to take on this challenge so that I would gain useful skills and real-life experiences from the vacation scheme.
I received a lot of guidance and support during the insight in a number of forms. Firstly, Graduate Recruitment were always on hand to answer our questions throughout the week, either via email or in person. Secondly, our trainers, although assessing us, were also a great source of guidance and support whilst we were completing our tasks. Thirdly, we were all assigned trainee buddies (who were not part of the assessment process) and this enabled us to ask them lots of questions freely!
The skills I developed included confidence, communication skills and networking, which will actually be of great assistance in my degree studies (tutorials, working with other students). I received a lot of information about Allen & Overy, which will be very useful if I am a trainee at the firm in the future!
The insight was really well structured - we were always doing different things so it never felt as if we were just sitting at our desks all day. As we were all given an Allen & Overy email address for the week, we were sent calendar reminders of each event, which helped facilitated an organised and well-structured week.
The general atmosphere was really welcoming and friendly. Doing a Winter Vacation Scheme meant that the firm was quieter than usual. However, it also meant that the offices were all decorated, there were lots of treats going around and I was even there for Christmas Jumper Day! The festive spirit and the supportive lawyers meant that the atmosphere was lovely overall.
It was quite clear that Allen & Overy invested a lot of time and money in us during the vacation scheme. The best session that I attended was on wellbeing - which had a very powerful message, but also gave us some concrete tips to improve our daily lives. This was a personal development session that will help me no matter what anyone in the room chooses to do after the vacation scheme.
The vacation scheme was a valuable insight, because we were able to meet lawyers in our department, complete tasks set by our trainers and receive feedback on everything that we did. Of course, the vacation scheme was packed with lots of activities and presentations, which meant that the week was not a complete mirror image of what a trainee would do at A&O. As the placement was only 5 days and we had lots of presentations to attend, most of us only completed a few tasks for our trainers throughout the week and I imagine that working lawyers would do many more. That said however, it was really important for us at this stage to attend these presentations and network!
The insight helped to remove any myths about the legal profession and made me realise that Allen & Overy has a friendly and supportive culture. Meeting the various networks at the firm (BAME, Women etc) and hearing about their social mobility initiatives was very important for me. It helped me realise that the culture was very inclusive.
The structured presentations (one of which was delivered by HR and was about the Training Contract at A&O) helped me to understand what exactly a commercial lawyer's career path may look like. Additionally, conversations with my trainer and lawyers at the firm were a great opportunity to ask them my own questions about my own future career path.
We were paid £450 for the week. I believe there was also the opportunity for accommodation expenses to be paid for dependent on your financial circumstances and whether you lived outside of London.
There were networking events organised for us - which included Christmas Drinks with future trainees and trainees and a Partner dinner at the Ritz! On our first day, we were introduced to everyone in our department, which was a good starting point for networking! There was also the opportunity for us to arrange coffee with people we had met on the scheme.
The highlight of the week was undoubtedly the dinner at the Ritz! I was personally quite nervous about it as I had never been to a networking event like that, but it was actually a really nice evening. There were circular tables of approximately 8, and each table had someone from the Graduate Recuitment team and a Partner. The other networking opportunities and social events (the Christmas Drinks) were also really helpful! My trainee buddy and a few other trainees took their buddies to Pizza Express for lunch, which was a really nice touch!
I was able to find this out by asking the relevant questions to lawyers at the firm! The activities ranged from Pro-Bono work to being on the choir. There was also the opportunity to have a tour of the gym if you wanted! I would perhaps say that it may have been useful to have a presentation focused on this if it was possible, so that we could all hear about the full range of activities available to employees.
I would 100% recommend the vacation scheme at Allen & Overy! It is a great opportunity to learn more about the firm and gain first-hand experience. If you are thinking about whether you should apply directly for a Training Contract or apply for the vacation scheme (where you are considered for a TC anyway), I would go for the vacation scheme, because it is such an enjoyable and insightful week!
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
13th January 2020