The virtual vacation scheme was brilliant and far exceeded my expectations. I was concerned with it being a virtual scheme, I might not get a feel for the firm. However, through the virtual sessions and number of representatives of the firm I got to speak to, the firm's culture shone through. I was also able to take part in several case study sessions to gain an in-depth understanding of the work the firm does.
I felt extremely valued at BCLP. We had the opportunity to speak to trainees, associates, senior associates and partners - including the managing partner in London. In my opinion, the willingness of so many people to give their time to answering our questions or have a 'virtual coffee' with us, demonstrates the value they place in potential future trainees.
The graduate recruitment team were amazing and answered any questions we had instantaneously via our whatsapp chat group, or were available on email, phone, or for a virtual coffee. We also had a meet and greet ahead of the scheme which ran through the software we were using and was a chance to meet everyone and ease any anxieties.
I was able to complete simulated trainee tasks which helped hone my drafting and research skills, and commercial acumen. This was beneficial to me in understanding the work of a trainee and what is expected. I also had an invaluable session on preparing for the final interview stage which contained pointers and tips that I will always remember!
I felt the scheme was very well structured, covering all the core practice areas of the firm through group sessions, as well as junior and senior lawyer panel sessions. The timetable was busy but with ample 'free time' to arrange to speak to people in other practice areas across the firm.
My fellow virtual vac schemers were all so friendly and our group whatsapp was very active. We had a few zoom catch ups throughout the week which really helped us bond as a group, even though we weren't together in person. I always felt comfortable enough to ask questions during our sessions and it was a very welcoming atmosphere.
I think the willingness of both junior and senior lawyers to speak to us personally during virtual coffees is a sign of how much they invested in me. In practically all the sessions, lawyers would stay on the call to answer additional questions or would respond if I sent emails with questions I didn't have time to ask.
To say this was a virtual scheme Istill came away feeling like I did have a good understanding. One thing that helped me in this respect was being invited to join the morning meeting of the practice area I was affiliated to during the week. Along with being to speak to lots of people across the firm about their experiences, I came away with understanding, despite not being in the office.
The scheme really helped me understand the culture and this was through the attitude of everyone I spoke to who was friendly, welcoming and only too happy to talk to me and answer my questions. This went for partners as well as trainees and associates. Attending the morning meeting in the practice area I was affiliated to also enabled me to see the friendly culture in action.
The scheme informed me about areas I had not considered such as finance. It gave me the opportunity to understand what the work entailed and dispel any myths I might have been harbouring! It definitely broadened my horizons as to how many other areas of work in the firm sounded really exciting and interesting. I finished the scheme feeling much more open minded.
This was a virtual scheme so there was no requirement for travel and the scheme was also really flexible, allowing us to watch recorded sessions back in our own time if we were unable to attend for some reason. In these circumstances, I think that the fact the firm still paid the same rate as for a one week scheme in the office, was very generous.
I cannot stress how brilliant this virtual scheme was for opportunities to network. I had so many 'virtual coffees' which I was able to request using an electronic form, and the grad recruitment team would organise for someone to get in touch with us from our requested practice area to arrange a time to chat. I think I had probably had even more opportunities to have in-depth conversations with employees of the firm than I would have in a normal vacation scheme.
As above, the networking opportunities were brilliant especially under the circumstances of a virtual scheme. We also had two social events during the week - a trainee lunch and one evening we played 'escape room' virtually in small teams which was good fun. Obviously there would possibly be more social event opportunities had this been a normal vac scheme in the office but I thought it was great considering.
I did hear from representatives of the firm about pro bono opportunities and volunteering. We had a whole session on pro-bono which was really interesting and an opportunity to ask lots of questions. I also heard about activities at the junior and senior lawyer panels such as sport events and regular get togethers within departments.
I would highly recommend BCLP virtual vacation scheme to a friend. I came away with a really positive feeling that I had experienced what the firm was about, its culture and values and the work it does. I also feel like I really understood what the work of a trainee at BCLP would entail. I made lots of contacts that I will maintain in the future.
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
12th June 2020