Securing a place on a vacation scheme can be difficult, but if you are able to prove yourself in what is essentially a week long interview, you are much more likely to secure that elusive training contract.
At Howes Percival, candidates are given the opportunity to spend time in some of the firm’s main disciplines (company/commercial, litigation, commercial property etc.). They will work with solicitors of all grades, and will be closely monitored by the firm’s fee earners.
The vacation scheme is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your potential as a future solicitor - many of our current trainees undertook a vacation scheme with Howes Percival. Below are 10 vacation scheme ‘dos and don’ts’ to help you navigate one of the most important weeks of your life:
Be appreciative - Remember that a lot of candidates did not secure a place on the vacation scheme. You should make the most of this opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the firm and your chosen career as a solicitor. By the same token, take some confidence from the fact that your application stood out enough to be selected. Try to demonstrate this confidence during the week
Ask questions - No matter how trivial you think they are. This is your opportunity to find out how a law firm actually operates. There will be a lot that is new to you; try not to sit there not knowing what is going on.
Make an effort to engage with members of staff - Most will be happy to talk to you and can give you some really valuable pieces of advice. Engaging solicitors in conversation will help them remember you, which can be particularly useful when your performance is reviewed at the end of the week.
Treat the vacation scheme as a week in work - This goes without saying, but you should present yourself professionally and always be polite and respectful to members of staff. Try not to be late and don’t sit looking at your phone all day.
Convey that you genuinely want to work for the firm - It will be assumed that, if you are on the vacation scheme, you want to work for the firm. Make sure that you have done adequate research into the firm’s practice areas. Don’t talk about your ambition to practice maritime law, or to do an international seat, if the firm doesn’t do it!
Panic! - You should not expect to walk into the office on day one and know exactly what you are doing - and we do not expect you to either. Your supervisor will know how much legal training you have, and will be looking at how well you tackle problems/tasks, not how much of Halsbury’s Laws you can regurgitate on demand.
Turn down an opportunity to socialise - Clear your social calendar for the week. If you are asked to go out for food or a drink with members of the firm, you should definitely go. This is a great way to get to know staff members in a more relaxed setting. Just don’t overdo it. Being able to drink a bottle of wine in less than five minutes may be impressive to certain people at university, but it won’t help you secure a training contract.
Forget you are in a working office - Whilst solicitors will be keen to help you as much as possible, they will be getting on with their own busy schedules at the same time. Try to judge the appropriate time to ask questions. If your supervisor has just finished a long telephone call, or is rushing off to a meeting, it may be a good idea to wait until later to approach them.
Act too competitively with other candidates - This is not an episode of The Apprentice. You are here not only to showcase your individual skills, but to show how well you can work as part of a team. Perceived arrogance or one-upmanship will not go down well with your supervisors.
Forget to have fun - You have hopefully chosen a career in law because you enjoy it. Whilst you will understandably be nervous and keen to make the best impression you can, try to take the time to enjoy yourself. You should get the opportunity to do some real and interesting work. If you are enjoying the work you are given, solicitors will be able to tell.