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How to get the most out of your Vacation Scheme

If you are reading this it is very likely that congratulations are in order. After countless applications, video interviews and probing in-person interviews you have successfully secured a vacation scheme! This alone is an accomplishment to be proud of, but now you have an opportunity to really show your potential as a future lawyer. I’ve shared some of my top tips (and inside knowledge from Michelmores) on how to impress during your vacation scheme.

The most important tip – enjoy it!

It is completely understandable that when you start your vacation scheme you will be a little bit nervous, don’t worry, you are not alone! Those nerves will quickly dissipate, however, and you will then be able to take the time to enjoy your vacation scheme. Dan O’Sullivan, one of our current trainees, has shared his insight into what he enjoyed about his vacation scheme last year:

“The vacation scheme is a great opportunity to gain a first-hand insight into trainee tasks, the practical side of working in a law firm and the expectations that come with it. It’s particularly useful for those who are less experienced and want to ascertain whether a career in law is for them and whether they and the firm are a good fit from a cultural perspective.”

Research the firm

Of course, you know lots about the firm before you start your vacation scheme, but in a sector as fast paced as law, there are always changes and it is important to keep up to speed. Before you start make sure to revisit and refresh your knowledge of the firm, and look for anything new which is particularly interesting. For example, Michelmores’ has recently undergone a massive rebrand which has involved an overhaul of our website, changing our logo and launching our Destination 2030 strategy.

This research shouldn’t just be limited to information about the firm, but also wider commercial awareness. Showing that you are up to date with recent events will help you stand out for all the right reasons.

Present your best self

This does not mean you need to arrive in a tailored three-piece suit directly from Savile Row, but dressing in shorts and a t-shirt on your first day will not help you to be remembered for the right reasons. A good tip for wherever you work is that you can always dress down if you are over-dressed (i.e. take off your jacket and tie), but it is very difficult to do the reverse. My advice is to dress professionally on your first day, see what everyone else wears and then you can always adapt your wardrobe for the rest of the week.

In addition to this, it is important to be equipped. A simple note pad and pen will allow you to take notes of the key information that you will be told during your week with the firm, whether that is information that relates to work you have been asked to complete or interesting topics you want to research further. Being proactive in this way will allow you to make a good impression throughout your vacation scheme.

Once you are in the door

It isn’t just a case of being equipped with pen and paper, but also an interest in the firm and the work that we do. Georgie Lewis, one of our Recruitment Business Partners, has shared one of her top tips for vacation scheme students:

“Think of the questions you want to ask before you start your vacation scheme, and do not leave the premises until you have an answer to all of them.”

Now you are in the firm you will have a number of opportunities to network and ask everything you want to know, whether that is why other members of your team enjoy working at Michelmores, or what they think about one of the latest legal topics you have been reading about. It is also good to speak everyone you can at the firm to get a range of answers to your questions. The reality is that anyone could be asked how they thought you did during the week, so it is important to interact with as many people as possible.

While thinking about the questions you want to ask, reflect on the research you have done before starting. If you ask about an area of law which we do not advise on, it may raise questions about how well you really know our business.

The assessments

Vacation schemes aren’t just an opportunity to network and integrate with the firm. We do offer training contracts to vacation scheme students, subject to performing well during our assessments throughout the week.

The most important tip here is, don’t worry! If you have been offered a vacation scheme then you have already shown yourself to be extremely capable and to possess the skills and characteristics that we look for in our lawyers. Think of the assessments as your opportunity to further display those skills and traits to give yourself the best chance of being offered a training contract.

During the week you will complete: a group presentation; a written task; a verbal reasoning test; an article discussion; and an interview. It is important to remember that none of these assessments are designed to trap you or trip you up in anyway, nor will they require any existing knowledge of the law. You will be assessed on your critical thinking, research and communication skills, as well as giving a deeper insight into why you want to work with us.

My advice for each of these tasks is to let your personality show through. There is no ‘one type of lawyer’ so simply trying to ‘play the part’ will seem unnatural and not allow us to get to know the real you. Be confident in yourself and your abilities, that will help to help you to push through the nerves and show us why you deserve a training contract.

And like I said… enjoy the week!