I had a fantastic time at RPC! Although the scheme was virtual and shortened from 2 weeks to 4 days, the firm put a lot of effort into ensuring that we had as positive an experience as possible. The work we were given was challenging but interesting and representative of trainee leve tasks. We had two evening networking sessions, one with trainees and one with lawyers from different teams. We were also able to participate in extra activities including a blog writing competition, producing content for their Instagram and a yoga session.
Before the scheme started RPC sent a lovely package which they described as a ‘vacation scheme survival kit.’ It contained several items including coffee, snacks, a coffee cup, and a notebook which were going to help us enjoy the scheme. This thoughtful gift really set the tone for the scheme as throughout I felt that graduate recruitment had designed the scheme from our perspective and wanted to make it as fun/interesting as possible. My supervisor made time for daily meetings with me and all the lawyers I met during the scheme were happy you take questions and continue conversations if we so wished.
As the scheme was virtual, I think that we had to do the tasks more independently and possibly had less help than we would have had in person. However, if I made a positive step to ask for help, either from my trainee buddy or supervisor, they made time to support me and make sure I was happy with my tasks. Graduate recruitment made themselves very available to take questions and repeatedly told us to reach out if we had problems/ technical difficulties. I did turn to them for help when I encountered technical difficulties, and they were very understanding.
As this was my first vacation scheme I do have anything to compare it to. Despite this, the insight I got into the daily functioning of the firm and the way in which it adapted to COVID has made the way in which I consider commercial questions related to this much more accurate. I also feel that I understand the types of clients my team had and queries they come to the firm with much more. At the end of the scheme, there were two Partner led talks. During this talk they shared their wisdom giving us tips on how to make a good trainee and how to approach a career in commercial law. It was clear that the talk was meant to motivate us and help us succeed wherever we went in the future.
We were shown the timetable for the scheme a few days prior to its commencement and had a copy of it to help us structure our own days. The timetable was respected throughout the scheme and made each day far more structured. Around half of the day (if not more on some days) was labled as work in our teams and this was not structured. This gave us the opportunity to work on our tasks and network with people in the firm.
I could not fault the atmosphere and culture of RPC during the scheme. Graduate recruitment was calm and friendly throughout, the lawyers were professional but approachable and the research team was very responsive. The trainee quiz was slightly chaotic but in the best of ways as we had unfiltered contact with the trainees and saw how they interact with eachother in an informal environment. RPC strikes a great balance between professionalism and friendliness - it is one of the best things about the firm.
Many city law firms canclled or postponed their vacation schemes due to COVID while RPC did not. Although, I imagine that the virtual scheme was (or once it becomes more well established will be) less expensive than physical vacation schemes, the firm was able to put this together in a short period of time and under difficult circumstances. This highlights their commitment to their vac schemers and was truly appreciated by us. Graduate recruitment included two legal workshops in the scheme and a workshop on giving virtual presentations. All the skills I learnt from these can be transferred to other firms or situations.
It gave me a far more profound insight than I had before (doing online research, attending an open day and attending the AC.) We were given the opportunity to understand their work better, to analyse their culture and to ask them any questions we had. At the end of the scheme graduate recruitment discussed how qualifying at the firm would work, spoke more about the training experience and we discussed their internal career progression system. This gave us a holistic view of where a TC at RPC could take us.
RPC is very proud of its culture and for good reason. During the scheme my interactions with RPC people confirmed how friendly and professional everyone is. Moreover, we were set a group task which involved analysing the culture of the firm by interviewing various people. The task helped us network within the firm and made us appreciate how supportive the firm is. I felt that the answers of the people I interviewed were very honest, for example discussing times when particular cases were stressful, but the overwhelming impression I got was extremely positive.
It was useful in the sense that it confirmed my desire to become a commercial solicitor, and gave me an insight into what makes a good trainee. I also know how important the culture is to me and how being passionate about the area of law you specialise in is the key to being successful and happy. If I do not get a TC at RPC, I would hope to train in a similar firm, both in terms of size and culture.
We were paid £400 for the 4 day scheme. We were also given a box of smal gift before the start of the firm and treated to a takeaway of up to £30.
There were several opportunities! There was a trainee quiz night where we played in teams of around 3 participants and 2 trainees and there was also a speed networking with members of different departments. We also had to interview different people within the firm for the group project, so this was a great opportunity to have a one on one chat. The workshops were also led by different lawyers who always gave out their contact details and were happy to answer additional questions.
I really enjoyed them! The trainee quiz was by far the most fun and informal one, which was extremely valuable given that the scheme was virtual. The speed networking helped give us an insight into different practice areas as we were in one team for the duration of the scheme and the workshops gave us contacts within interesting sectors. I was genuinely surprised at how many people I spoke with in such a short amount of time, I would have loved for the scheme to be slightly longer so that I could contact all the people I wanted to speak to.
Absolutely, we were told about activities such as yoga or the choir. There was also a big focus on the Allies network at RPC which helps promote different areas of D&I within the firm.
I would without a doubt recommend this insight to a friend. It was an incredible virtual vacation scheme at an incredibly friendly yet high performing firm. The people at RPC are diverse and interesting, and even if you do not end up training there I am certain your experience there will be a positive one.
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
2nd July 2020