I thoroughly enjoyed the virtual experience. The highlights for me included meeting the managing partner and trainee partner at the regional office ( as well as all the trainees) and getting involved with the group project work. It was also interesting to hear about the new Dublin office as this was a new part of the International Graduate Programme. Although the experience was generally very good, I may have enjoyed it more had there been social events e.g. virtual escape room.
As a cohort, I think we all felt valued as the Grad Rec team were particularly welcoming - there was definitely a sense of a DLA Piper 'family'. However, the only downside is there were 99 of us so perhaps the Grad Rec weren't able to get to know us as well as if the scheme had been in person. I felt particularly valued once we were split into our respective offices and met the teams there.
Prior to the scheme starting, we were paired with a trainee buddy. Luckily I was able to chat with my buddy in advance of the scheme so felt prepared going into the first day. During the scheme, Grad Rec made sure we knew what was happening during the day and what to expect next. They were also available throughout the day via phone/email if we had any problems. I felt well supported throughout the scheme.
The main skill I developed was my pitch presenting skills e.g. communication, clarity of thought and being able to adapt to new information. As a law student, this is a useful skill for modules including public speaking or for getting involved with mooting. Beyond this, developing this skill will help me as a I begin my career in law. The other skill I developed was communicating over zoom/webcam which will undoubtedly be useful in university and beyond.
The experience was well-structured. We received a booklet prior to the scheme starting which outlined the plan/times for the week. The week itself was busy (in a good way) however I feel there could've been a few more events/talks during the afternoon sessions - and a social event would have been nice too. However, the events planned were well thought through and I was able to get a good understanding of the firm, practice areas, culture, etc.
The atmosphere was incredibly warm and friendly. The Grad Rec team welcomed us from the first minute with so much enthusiasm, I instantly felt at ease. The atmosphere among the other vac schemers was non-competitive (which is not always the case with law events) and everyone was working with each other, rather than against. The atmosphere from the regional office was also very friendly/chatty and I felt I got to know the OMP/OTP well over the scheme, despite being virtual.
I think the experience gave an excellent insight into the culture of the firm. Straight from the first 'hello', I was made to feel very welcome which reflects the general culture and approach of the firm. We were also introduced to the firm's charity, pro bono, and CSR initiatives which are clearly a priority for the firm. Hearing from the current trainees (particularly from the regional office) also really helped me understand the culture - I just wish we'd had a little longer to speak to them.
Having already taken part in an earlier scheme with the firm (First Year Insight Programme), I was already aware of some of the content e.g. pro bono initiatives, structure of the firm etc. However, it was great to hear the info again in the context of COVID etc and it reiterated all the reasons I liked the firm in the first place. The content was certainly valuable in deciding that this career path is right for me, and also the firm is right for me too.
Originally the scheme was meant to be three weeks in person (with a salary paid per week) however the scheme was moved online due to Coronavirus. As a consequence, we were only paid for the one week. Whilst this wasn't an issue generally, the London interns were still paid more than the regional interns, despite having exactly the same experience which is a little frustrating. However, the pay was good for what the experience was so overall I'm happy with it!
I have given this a five because the networking opportunities were good; however, there were no social opportunities. I would have liked to have mingled with the other interns a bit more as I didn't feel I got to know anyone particularly well outside of my group project group (there were 3 per group). It would have been nice to do a social event e.g. virtual escape room. However, there were plenty of networking opportunities with partners, associates and trainees.
Yes absolutely - the original in-person experience would of course have been better but this was a very good substitute in the circumstances. If you want insight into how a law firm works, what a trainee does, and an understanding of the firm's culture, then this is an excellent experience. As a law firm, they are to be admired for their dedication to pro bono, as well as the (international and client) secondment opportunities available to trainees.