Vacation Scheme Student at Allen & Overy

Top Employer
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)
Bishopsgate Central London and City
Review Date
Less than £ 10,000

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About You
The Organisation
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About You

1. To what extent did you enjoy the insight?

Overall, disappointing. At best, both I and the firm had bad scheme fatigue. Either the firm is overhyped, or they inadvertently were brutally honest about trainee life. Worst offence was a complacency that by virtue of being on the scheme, our default first choice would be A&O, notwithstanding that all but one of us had done at least one City scheme just before.


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

Hard to say. I personally felt a mix of there being interest in me, and also feeling redundant. Not buoyed by hearing other people on the scheme being told to watch how many questions they ask, and (separately) that their trainer 'does not care' that they'll be out of the office for a while.


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

Credit where credit's due. My trainee 'buddy' was a sound guy and constantly checked in to see how I was doing and to help me out if I needed it. My first trainer took a lot of time to explain things and was happy to talk things over a lot. One of the redeeming features of the scheme.


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

Negligibly. They made it no secret that they do less of the 'academic' and more of the 'commercial'. So nothing really will assist me in my degree. For the latter, I learnt how a couple of deals work. Great, but nothing that the LPC wouldn't have taught me.


The Organisation

5. How well structured was the insight?

Looked good on paper.

In reality, big deadlines clashed, the middle week has far heavier than the other two, and talks had to be rescheduled four times. The latter is understandable, but making us wait until the talk was meant to have finished to tell us it wasn't happening doesn't reflect well. Especially when the managing partner told us first thing in week 1 there was very little tolerance for a lack of punctuality.

The second week was task-induced panic, while the first and last weeks were a lull. Most annoyingly the talk on the training contract, arguably the most important for informing your decision, was held AFTER the deadline for applications. Speaks to the complacency point I made earlier.


6. How was the general atmosphere during your insight?

Most people were on the spectrum of palpable misery. Only the graduate recruitment staff, the recruitment partner, and the trainees were very quick to smile and say hello. Couple of exceptions, but they prove the rule. Canteen staff largely rude, gym receptionist exceptionally so. A&O was sold to me as the 'friendliest firm'; I must say it was far less friendly than a firm I was at whose reputation is of 'snooty, reclusive geniuses'. Having just come from a place where the canteen staff remembered your name and their smile couldn't be more genuine - well, speaks for itself.

Most notable is how many people are jumping ship. I saw no less than five leave during my three weeks, and that was just in two departments on the same floor. It really does not feel like a happy place.


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

They did put decent effort into doing things with us. The client pitch task was possibly the most instructive. But that took a lot of investment from them, and far more from us.


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

I think it did the job very well. There was no attempt to hide things, and I knew from practically day two that I didn't like it.


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

As above. Possibly inadvertently.


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

Didn't learn anything that I hadn't already found out re: commercial solicitor in the city.


Other Information

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

£250/week. Pretty poor for MC. I wasn't there for the money, but it doesn't look great to constantly harp on about how successful they are, and then give us very little, and tell us to make our own way to socials (to their credit, this only happened once after a fairly strong protest) and mid-range restaurants.

Worst thing is it's paid as a lump sum a week after the scheme finishes. Frustrating if you're renting and your cashflow is not looking good. And watch out for the canteen expenses. Not too cheap at all.

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

Aside from trainees, very little. Nothing stopped you from going round and doing it yourself, but there were no opportunities to meet other partners, or associates for that matter.


13. How were the networking/ social event opportunities?

Fine and enjoyable, but after the first couple you were talking to the same people: the graduate recruitment team, the partner, or the trainees. Other than that, the show that was put on was distinctly below the bar set elsewhere. Didn't stop me from enjoying it, and I didn't expect Freshfields-esque speedboating down the Thames; just sat awkwardly with how the firm had been sold to us.


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

Pro-bono, sports teams, fairly standard stuff. Only 6 out of 17 could go along to the pro bono events, and that was only after asking if we could.


15. Would you recommend this insight to a friend?

Generally, no, except to come to conclusions about the firm for themselves. It's a very personal thing.