A one week insight scheme for first year ((or 2nd years on a 4 year course) law and non-law students involving classroom-based activity, time spent shadowing lawyers in practice areas, and a trip to one of the firm's international offices.
The SPARK scheme (1st year scheme) was absolutely amazing. I have done a plethora of first year schemes and this one was far and away the best. It was the ideal mix of classroom sessions to develop us personally and professionally, but also work shadowing which gave me a real insight into the work the firm does, and what a Training Contract might look like there.
I never felt bored or like anything was just done to fill time. Everything was planned to a 't' and filled a real purpose.
The feeling of 'belonging' at Clifford Chance began before the scheme even started! They invited us to three separate events prior to spark to allow us to get to know our internship cohort and the graduate recruitment team.
When I was work shadowing, I was given real work to do that helped on a 'live' case and my supervisor was genuinely appreciative of it and was happy to give me so much of his time to explain things and make sure I felt valued and like I belonged.
We received so much guidance and support and had it drilled home to us that there were no stupid questions, and it was genuinely enforced. Before we went into practice areas to work shadow, we were given comprehensive briefings about what each area did so we did not feel out of our depth.
When work shadowing, I got given a lot of guidance and support from people of all levels to ensure I never felt out of my depth.
Without a doubt, the skills I developed will be directly relevant to my future legal career and studies. I learned how to negotiate succinctly and defend my point of view like a corporate lawyer. I also gained a highly detailed insight into what training at a magic circle firm would be like, confirming to me that this is a career I wish to pursue.
The programme structure was great - spending the first two days in classroom sessions learning the ins and outs of the firm, its networks, clients and practice areas meant that I was able to make the most of my work shadowing my utilising this information. Spending the last 1.5 days in the Brussels office was amazing. It allowed me to see how the international network operates and how Clifford Chance offers a seamless cross border service to its clients, echoing what we had seen earlier in the week.
The atmosphere was so friendly and collegiate. We were never made to feel that we had to compete with the rest of our cohort. The firm provided us with multiple opportunities to network formally and informally with each other.
Even when networking with partners within the firm, the atmosphere was still incredibly open and welcoming. I really felt like a part of the firm.
I feel Clifford Chance invested a huge amount in us during the scheme. They event brought in multiple external specialists to train us up. For example, we had a banker from Morgan Stanley come in to teach us about inverstment banking. We also have a specialist study skills mentor come in to teach us how to work 'smartly' and improve our personal brand.
We were given presentations by partners from all practice areas of the firm, which allowed us to think about what working in the firm might be like. Hearing from the firm's diversity networks and sports teams also showed us what a social life there might be like. My only point for improvement would be that we did not get a lot of exposure to trainees to see what a Training Contract might be like in real life.
By giving us talks from the firms gender, LGBT+, religion and womens' networks, as well as hearing from sports teams and the firm choir, we were able to appreciate how much the firm culture valued employees beyond just their legal offering.
Sitting in departments also allowed me to gain an appreciation for how constant support and training (both formal and informal) exists at all levels of the firm.
The week on SPARK was incredibly useful in confirming to me that corporate law at Clifford Chance was the right career path for me. We were exposed to all elements of the profession to allow us to make an informed decision.
In particular the 'ask me anything' session with a partner gave a candid insight into the highs and lows of the professions and was especially helpful.
I was paid £350 for the week and my travel was reimbursed. Those who receive above a certain threshold of student loan had their accommodation sourced and paid for, for them (Kings College London university halls). When we went to Brussels, all transport, food and hotels were also paid for by the firm.
Yes, there were multiple opportunities. Networking breakfasts and lunches were common to allow us to meet a wide range of firm employees across all levels from trainee to partners. We were also actively encouraged to pursue networking opportunities ourselves such as going for coffees or lunches with people who worked in areas we were interested in.
They were amazing and there was a huge range from networking drinks, to fun socials such as chocolate making and a tour of Brussels! By having such a wide range of activities, we could really get a feel for the firm and how people of different levels all interacted with each other.
Yes we were given talks about the firm's sport and social activities. We also found out a lot about Clifford Chance's pro bono work and how trainees are encouraged to get involved with this from day one, and are even encouraged to bring in their own pro bono 'clients' to the firm.
I would not hesitate to recommend it to a friend! In fact, I have recommended it to multiple friends and have helped them apply for it! The scheme is the perfect way to get an insight into the world of corporate law and is also the only scheme to offer a direct training contract for first years!