Having undertaken the scheme last year in person, I believe the Graduate Recruitment have done a fantastic job of reformatting it and ensuring there are enough assessments and interactions to make it a worthwhile and beneficial experience.
DLA are wonderful hosts and the atmosphere is very welcoming. Everyone up to managing partners are friendly and approachable, and demonstrate DLA's values. Although it can be difficult to match face-to-face dynamics, the scheme was as interactive as it could reasonably have been.
The scheme is well structured and the sessions are an appropriate length. There are no practice "seats" as such, but the interactive projects and assessments were well organised and both Graduate Recruitment and the trainees and solicitors are very supportive.
Although unconventional, the scheme helps develop skills that will become more necessary in future, such as using technology in the workplace. In addition, the interactive assessments closely mimicked that of legal work that would be found in various training contract seats, so serve as useful practical exercises.
Overall, the scheme is well structured, especially given the impact of COVID-19. The week-long experience itself is well structured and full of useful sessions. However, it would have been beneficial if news of additional assessments that were added for the following week wlhad been disseminated before the scheme launched.
The large group sessions were lively and welcoming, and the small group assessment sessions were equally interactive and productive. Everyone is a willing participant and makes the scheme memorable.
Given the circumstances, it would be very difficult for DLA to provide the kind of one-to-one training and development that they would normally provide. However, the combination of group tasks and insightful talks with time for questions served as a usual source of personal growth.
First, it is important to say that the values and atmosphere of the firm is immediately apparent throughout its people, which gives a good flavour of what it would be like to train and work for DLA. Secondly, the activities and group work served as a useful substitute for office work and gave a flavour of the type of work undertaken in a variety of training seats.
As described above, the values and atmosphere of the firm is immediately apparent throughout its people. Therefore, given the exposure to a range of speakers from all levels of the firm, DLA's culture is illustrated in its best light. The general atmosp is welcoming and friendly, and it reflects onto the interns throughout the scheme.
Given I have already undertaken the internship scheme in its traditional format, I already had an idea of the kind of work undertaken in each seat. However, this virtual internship scheme offered the opportunity to work on varied work specific to a range of available seats. It has served as a useful introduction to areas which I had not yet experienced in practice.
The payment provided by DLA is competitive and as to be expected for such a programme. The contract of employment was amended following the change to the programme structure in light of COVID-19, but these changes were prompt and aboveboard. The expenses are reimbursed in the usual way and are also prompt.
There were many different sessions aimed at introducing the internship scheme cohort to various DLA people from all levels of the firm. Naturally, the ability to network is somewhat diminished by the fact that it is virtual as opposed to being face-to-face, but there was ample opportunity to make contacts and engage with DLA contacts.
Again, in light of the circumstances, it is difficult to represent or compare to face-to-face networking and social event opportunities. However, the internship scheme included a Zoom quiz and a number of varied group tasks that required being grouped with other members of the cohort to ensure each intern meets as many new faces as reasonably possible.
DLA held sessions on the various social activities available nationally and regionally, as well as some international events. In addition, they held sessions on the myriad schemes and networks which the firm runs, from social benefit networks to pro-bono and non-billable work opportunities, including charity work and community partnership opportunities.
I would recommend this virtual experience to a friend, especially if they want to be introduced to the working culture and range of legal work undertaken by DLA. There is enough variety in the week-long programme to enable interns to build their networks within the firm and across the wider profession, and challenge themselves through a variety of group activities and assignments.