This review was submitted over 4 years ago, so some of the information it contains may no longer be relevant.
Very enjoyable: the people at the firm as well as the students on the scheme were all friendly. The work was generally interesting, and the scheme was a useful way of coming to understand A&O.
There was a dedicated 'buddy' system (each of us were assigned a trainee with whom we had a link: my buddy had been to the same college as me). This worked well, and my three supervisors seemed to try hard to involve me in their work and the team as a whole.
There was a strong culture of providing constructive feedback after each piece of work; we did not move from task to task without understanding how well we were doing. The graduate recruitment team was also always on hand to advise.
Many of the skills I developed were legal or specific to law firms (most of which I had acquired on previous vacation schemes), but my tasks encouraged attention to detail, teamwork and communication skills, which are certainly all generally useful. The skills were less relevant to my degree, but that was not in my view the purpose of the scheme.
Generally well structured to allow us to enjoy ourselves without disrupting our work. Socials were well distributed over the three weeks. There were a few scheduling problems, but these were eventually resolved.
The office was, I gathered, quieter than it would normally be throughout the year (it was August). Although this meant there was generally less work going on in total, our supervisors and other lawyers for that reason had more time to dedicate to us. The office environment was very friendly, and this seemed to me an accurate reflection of A&O's culture rather than something put on for vacation scheme students.
There seemed to have been a great deal of investment at all levels of the firm, but especially from our supervisors. All this investment was ultimately aimed at our personal development, specifically understanding a career at A&O (and in law more generally) and helping us to decide if it would suit us.
The vacation scheme is as close as one can get to a training contract. A three week scheme naturally cannot condense the experience of a two year TC, but I felt the scheme was an accurate reflection of a trainee's experience.
It was helpful, although 'culture' remains a fairly nebulous concept to me. I suppose culture is ultimately about the firm's people, and the scheme gave us three weeks of intense contact with dozens of A&O people at all levels.
Valuable, although I had done two vacation schemes beforehand at fairly similar firms. Overall I ended up having to make comparisons between similar things. On its own I think the scheme is a good way to decide whether you would like a career in commercial law and, if so, whether A&O would suit you.
I commuted from home. The pay covered my train fare adequately.
(See above). Plenty of opportunity, both in day-to-day work and in organised events.
(See above for networking). Social events consisted of meals in nice restaurants - fairly typical of vacation schemes but not as inventive (or, dare I say it, enjoyable) as social events at other firms I have experienced. This is, however, a minor point. The socials allowed us to get to know our colleagues, which I imagine was their purpose.
There were one or two e-mails sent round about sports events. We also heard about pro bono and community activities. The fact that it was August probably explains why things seemed fairly quiet.
Certainly, but I would warn them that it is fairly hard work and most useful to someone already very interested in a career in law.
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
16th August 2013