I very much enjoyed the insight in terms of my exposure to a commercial lawyer's work. I felt that my understanding of the role was vastly improved after having completed the vacation scheme. However, I think that the insight would have been even more enjoyable had we been able to experience a number of practice areas as originally planned. Although I enjoyed my particular seat, it was still somewhat disappointing to not experience some of the seats at the firm which had particularly drawn me toward RPC.
I felt very valued by RPC and it was a great insight into how I would be treated as a trainee at the firm. When presenting to my department, I felt that my opinions were valued and my supervisor showed that I was valued by holding daily check-ins and providing me with great advice to improve my work. It was also very rewarding to have the chance to engage in a diversity & inclusion workshop in which we were asked for our suggestions going forward. This emphasised how much RPC valued our opinions.
Whenever I was in need of support, I was able to reach out to my trainee buddy who provided me with ample guidance and very useful feedback. My supervisor also made sure to provide me with constructive feedback during our daily check-ins. However, being a virtual internship, the process of securing guidance and support was somewhat slowed down by the absence of in-person and immediate contact. This meant that I was sometimes hesitant to reach out for help as I didn't want to bombard my supervisor or trainee buddy with constant emails. However, given that this was virtual experience, such issues were to be expected.
I learnt skills in legal research which will assist me both in the legal field as well as my studies. The process of comparing case law and evaluating the significance of judgements will also better prepare me for both situations. Most importantly, I learnt how to interact and conduct business in a virtual world. After this experience, I feel I have developed the skills necessary to handle the potentially higher frequency of remote working in the post-Covid world.
The insight was well structured in terms of the range of tasks which I was set. The range and number of tasks vastly improved my understanding of the nature of a commercial lawyer's work. However, due to the length of the shortened programme, the work ended up being somewhat rushed. Even if the virtual internship had been extended from 4 to 5 days I think this would have been ideal to ensure every task was given the attention it deserved.
There was a great atmosphere for the duration of my vacation scheme. Everyone in the firm - from trainees through to partners - made a concerted effort to create a welcoming atmosphere and I felt comfortable to approach the firms' lawyers for help and insight. The firm certainly lives up to its motto of 'Strikingly Real' and I was very impressed to see how much the firm's unique atmosphere was obvious even through the medium of zoom.
The firm made sure to invest in us beyond the skills solely needed for the internship. During a presentation workshop, I learnt skills which I can apply going forward whether that be in law or in academia. The firm also provided us with access to a number of internal resources which provided guidance on how to build your personal brand and advance as a lawyer. The daily check-ins with my supervisor also confirmed that the firm was invested in developing me.
All of the work that I was set was modelled on actual work which had been previously carried out by trainees at RPC. I was therefore able to gain a very accurate picture of the nature of work which trainees in my department would deal with on a daily basis. Speaking to more senior members of staff, I was also able to gain important insight into how one's role within the firm shifts as one progresses through their career.
The firm's culture was evident from the very start of the internship. RPC's motto to be 'strikingly real' certainly shone through. I was set up with a number of 'virtual coffees' which provided an opportunity to talk with employees on a more personal level about life at the firm. As vacation schemers, we also completed a culture task which was designed to provide even greater insight into firm culture as well as inviting us to provide our own suggestions and evaluations.
The content was of great value in helping me to decide my future career path. It can often be hard to envision exactly what a legal career in a commercial law firm entails from open days and insight days alone. I felt that this vacation scheme provided me with a much more complete picture of the nature of a commercial lawyer's work, particularly a trainee. Having had this experience, I can make more accurate decisions about my career going forward.
The original sum which we were due to be paid was a third of what was originally guaranteed. However, given that the internship went from 10 days in the office to 4 days at home this payment seemed reasonable to me. I am also sure that if any assistance was needed in order to secure computer equipment or other important technology needed to partake in the programme, RPC would have been more than willing to assist.
There were ample opportunities for networking and meeting employees of the firm. We had one guaranteed speed networking session during which I met many members of the firm. My trainee buddy also made sure to arrange 'virtual coffees' for me which provided a great opportunity to meet more members of the firm and get a more personal take on how the firm operates. My trainee buddy also informed me that he could set up more if I so desired.
The networking events helped me a lot to understand how trainee solicitors can succeed and what skills are most relevant to the job. I was also able to gain greater insight into the nature of their tasks on a daily basis. The social events were a great opportunity to see the firm's welcoming culture in action. I greatly enjoyed the social events and felt that all of the firm's employees were incredibly friendly and keen to create a fun atmosphere.
I was able to find out how employees can get involved in the various work streams which the firm runs in order to work towards its diversity and inclusion goals. This was covered in ample detail during our presentation on diversity and inclusion and I was also able to learn more through networking and discussions. I was also able to learn about the social activities which firm employees take part in order to create a great atmosphere between colleagues.
I would definitely recommend this insight to a friend as my understanding of a commercial lawyer's work has been vastly improved by my experience of RPC. Also, anyone undertaking this internship will feel valued and supported throughout their time. The only reason I wouldn't recommend this experience to a friend is if the firm didn't work to improve the exposure to practice areas provided by the experience. It would have provided an even fuller picture of work inside a commercial law firm had I been able to experience more than one practice area.
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
6th July 2020