Virtual Vacation Scheme Participant at Herbert Smith Freehills

Virtual Experience
London Central London and City
Review Date
Less than £ 10,000
Commercial Law


The Role



About You

Role Description

Virtual vacation scheme for training contract offer holders

1. To what extent did you enjoy the virtual experience?

I thoroughly enjoyed the virtual vacation scheme with Herbert Smith Freehills, not least because training contract offers were made before the scheme took place. Without the pressure of being evaluated over the course of the week, I was free to focus on learning more about the firm. I especially enjoyed the departmental and pro bono presentations. The scheme would have benefited from a work experience element and by being extended to two or three weeks. Overall, however, the scheme was very enjoyable.


2. To what extent did you feel valued during your time at the company or firm?

It is hard to pin down what exactly it means to feel valued. The Graduate Recruitment team were flexible on participation. My trainee buddy was exceptionally friendly, answering my questions about life at Herbert Smith Freehills and about the trainee life in London. I especially appreciated the one-on-one chats with partners, including with my dedicated partner mentor. That so many people took the time to talk to me and answer my questions about the firm made me feel valued.


3. How much guidance/support did you receive during the virtual experience?

There was adequate guidance and great support from the Graduate Recruitment team during the virtual vacation scheme. Little help was actually needed as the scheme was mostly comprised of presentations. However, both the trainee buddy and the partner mentor proved very useful resources for any guidance needed. A few technological issues occurred but these were also corrected swiftly. My only complaint is that I wish I had received information about the schedule in well in advance of the virtual vacation scheme itself.


4. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and information you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?

The only reason I am giving a lower score here is because the virtual vacation scheme was not designed to assist me in my degree studies at all. As such, the question is out of place in this review. One benefit I can point to is the practice I received in preparing a delivering a team presentation. However, this was a much more casual exercise and did not truly improve my presentation skills or give feedback on the same.


The Organisation

5. How well structured was the virtual experience?

The virtual vacation scheme was organised and structured very well. The days were packed with talks, presentations, one-on-one chats, and other interactive sessions. The schedule was perhaps a bit overpacked for a four day scheme, because sessions were rushed at times. I would have liked a bit more of a relaxed pace to departmental presentations and an opportunity to ask more questions. Overall, however, the scheduled talks were informative and engaging. I have no real complaints.


6. How was the general atmosphere during your virtual experience?

I think this largely boils down to the fact that myself and the rest of the virtual vacation scheme cohort were quite relaxed during the scheme because we already had our training contract offers. Our questions reflected genuine curiosity rather than an attempt to impress partners or graduate recruitment. The various firm representatives were also very friendly and generous with their time. However, I did miss having an in-person experience to gauge the workplace atmosphere.


7. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?

Again, this may be an unfair question because the virtual vacation scheme did not seem designed around my personal training and development. As a scheme for training contract offer holders, it was much more about giving us a well-rounded picture of Herbert Smith Freehills and what it means to work there. Some work experience element would have helped my personal development. However, the learning and development sessions on developing my "Virtual Presence" and on "Design Thinking" were useful.


8. To what extent did the virtual experience help you to understand what it would be like to have a full time role with the company or firm?

This was more of a mixed bag. My high rating reflects the exceptionally candid conversations I had with my trainee buddy, partner mentor, and another partner. Along with the departmental presentations, these conversations gave me a vivid picture of what it would be like to work at Herbert Smith Freehills in a full-time role. Without a work experience element, however, it was hard to get a thorough understanding of trainee tasks or the trainee schedule.


9. How much did the virtual experience help you in understanding the company culture?

I do not think a virtual vacation scheme of any kind can replace a traditional in-person vacation scheme experience. Operating within the limits of the virtual scheme, Herbert Smith Freehills did a great job of ensuring that I received a genuine feel for their culture. Representatives were candid and answered questions honestly. I got a sense that the firm makes room for different personalities and that different people can thrive. However, a virtual scheme offers a far more curated look at company culture and deprive us of the opportunity to observe the myriad daily office interactions.


10. How valuable was the content in helping you to decide on your future career path?

Once again, this question hardly fits the structure and purpose of the virtual vacation scheme. This scheme was exclusive to training contract offer holders. At this stage, I think it is safe to say that the entire cohort was quite certain about pursuing a career as commercial solicitors at a top firm. Insofar as deciding a career path within the firm, the departmental presentations were useful in understanding the various opportunities at Herbert Smith Freehills.


Other Information

11. Were you paid or reimbursed adequately for this experience?

The remuneration was adequate for the length and nature of the scheme.

12. Were there opportunities for networking and meeting other employees of the company or firm?

Having participated in another firm's scheme, this was one of the better parts of the virtual vacation scheme with Herbert Smith Freehills. I felt like the firm made a genuine effort to provide networking opportunities. The one-on-one chats I mentioned previously were casual, informative, and allowed me to freely ask the hard questions I had about the firm. Although there weren't any formal networking opportunities with other members of the firm, we were encouraged to get in touch with anyone we met during the scheme.


13. How were the networking/ social event opportunities?

On a virtual vacation scheme, opportunities for networking or taking part in social events are few and far between. There was a terrarium-making workshop but no other events were scheduled. Other firms I know of have scheduled drinks events or group lunches and dinners. Something like that would have helped build better bonds with the rest of the virtual vacation scheme cohort. It would have also added to the already relaxed nature of the scheme.


14. Did you find out about activities that employees can get involved in outside of work?

The emphasis of the scheme was almost entirely on life at Herbert Smith Freehills. Departmental presentations and even the one-on-one chats centred around work. The sessions on diversity & inclusion, pro bono & citizenship, and the Digital Law Group shone a light on ways to get involved in projects outside of the core training contract. The "Diversity Networks Fair" also provided insight on ways to get involved with various affinity networks to expand my social circle at the firm.


15. Would you recommend this virtual experience to a friend?

As the experience was only offered to training contract offer holders, I would give a resounding "YES" to this question if it meant my friends also had offers. Taking a less literal approach, I think this virtual vacation scheme was very useful in reinforcing that Herbert Smith Freehills is the right firm for me to begin my career journey. For those who hold any doubts, the scheme can help lend clarity. As such, I would definitely recommend the scheme.