The scheme being virtual was better than I expected initially. I was quite anxious about the structure of the scheme and whether I could engage with my peers and the people in the firm. But all the webinars/sessions have given me plenty opportunities to ask questions whenever needed, and the extra one-to-one and Q&A sessions throughout the week has given me more opportunities to raise questions on specific topics on cultural differences and interaction with the firm.
I felt valued during the vacation scheme. I had opportunities to ask questions during webinars and sessions through the chat function in the video call, and many of us were eager to learn more about respective areas. Throughout the scheme, I felt that the firm is supportive and inclusive, and it really does care for all of its employees. I witnessed this first-hand through the discussions/sessions on mental wellbeing, professional career development etc. I was surprised how A&O promotes diversity by encouraging different types of thinking among its lawyers, when new concepts such as legal design thinking and behavioural/psychological aspects on personal and professional development were introduced to us throughout the week.
I received much guidance and support from the firm, especially from my trainee buddy and REACH buddy, who both respectively provided insight and guidance to a trainee's / associate's life in A&O. I had plenty of opportunities to ask questions and everyone was happy to assist. I had multiple video calls with my buddies to catch up on my progress throughout the week and will continue to stay connected after the end of the scheme.
I developed my time-management skills throughout the vacation scheme. The week, although short, was fully packed with various webinars and sessions. It was quite challenging to juggle different tasks and communicate with teammates who are from all over the world (with different time zones). However, I had everything noted down in my calendar to keep me up to date and our team communicated effectively to ensure all tasks were carried out on time and smoothly.
The vacation scheme was structured, with various sessions arranged throughout the week. We heard from different people across the firm, from trainees, associates, senior associates in various practice areas to staff from advanced delivery during the investigation phase of the innovation challenge. We also had talks about mental health and wellbeing, pro bono opportunities, various social networks, career pathways and personal development throughout the week. The highlight was Gareth's session (Managing Partner) on A&O's approach in the Co-vid Pandemic and future vision, which was very much thought-provoking and insightful.
The general atmosphere was fun and engaging. The innovation challenge was particularly exciting. Interviewing various people across the firm from different practice areas helped me gain a full understanding of how all areas fit together as a whole. Also, working with my team has been really good experience, all members of the team contributed to giving ideas and building the final product of our presentation. The corporate task although challenging, gave a real insight of a trainee's task, and the feedback session on the last day allowed me to learn from my mistakes and how it can be improved in the future.
I think the firm did well in investing in the personal and professional development in me. The innovation challenge was a good experience and opportunity to help us work on our creativity, innovative thinking and teamwork. My team brainstormed and consolidated ideas from everyone to create our final presentation product. I really enjoyed collaborating with the team, and each of use gave honest feedback to each other’s parts. Furthermore, the corporate task was also a good reflection of a trainee's task, and the feedback session was useful to further improve on my mistakes.
I was paid £450pw.
There were plenty of opportunities to network and meet employees of the firm. The innovation challenge allowed us to interview various people across the firm from different practice areas helped me gain a full understanding of how all areas fit together as a whole. Besides that, all the webinars/sessions has given me a good idea of the inner workings of the firm and its working culture. Overall, I managed to meet different people across the firm.
Yes, I would recommend anyone who is interested in working in A&O to apply for a vacation scheme. In my view, A&O is a supportive and inclusive firm, which promotes creative thinking among lawyers. The vacation scheme was fun, engaging, insightful and I managed to build my network with various people across the firm and with my peers in the vacation scheme cohort. The scheme is well structured, and there are many opportunities to get involved in and learn from.
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
Central London and City
6th July 2020