10 types of people you will meet on your vac scheme

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By Katie King on

Which one are you?


It’s that time of year again: summer vac scheme season.

Students from across the country will be descending on the City of London in the hopes of wowing and wooing grad recruiters at some of the country’s top firms.

While the pressure of impressing future employers is doubtless weighing on your mind you will probably also have given a thought as to who else might be on the scheme.

What will they be like? Will we all get on? Will it be The Apprentice or Love Island?

Let Legal Cheek allay your fears. Here are ten of the most usual of all the usual vac scheme suspects.

1. The man of few words

Who knows what this one said in his interview to secure his vac scheme place, because he’s certainly not saying it now. Maybe the Hunger Games-esque desperation for training contracts within the group is psyching him out or maybe he’s just a shy person, but either way the solicitor this vac scheme student is shadowing seems genuinely pained by their mute shadowee. But, then again, you know what they say about quiet ones…

2. Miss Confident

Miss Confident is so confident in her knowledge, intelligence, and commercial awareness that she craftily bypasses all the supervisors and manages to advise a client on a £200m acquisition. Her reign as corporate law queen comes to a sudden end when one of the partners asks her to pop a letter in the post box, and she decides to amend a couple of the clauses first.

3. The insider

The arch-nemesis of Miss Confident, the insider is so in with the law firm he might as well be living there. His mum’s a partner, his dad’s a senior associate, his brother’s a trainee and his sister’s just qualified. Then there’s the aunt and uncle, who work on reception and in PR respectively. He spends his lunchtime reminiscing with the vac scheme supervisor about a recent family BBQ, and even shares a special handshake with the head of grad recruitment. Oh, and did I mention the managing partner is his godfather?

4. The budding artist

Who knows why the budding artist is on a vac scheme at a City firm. Who knows if even she knows? She clearly doesn’t want to be a corporate lawyer, and spends her lunch breaks drowning out the insider’s “remember when” ramblings by sketching and listening to The Smiths. She is studying modules in Roman law, medical law, legal history and criminal evidence. We anticipate a vac scheme fling blossoming between her and the man of few words.

5. The comparer

The comparer has done more vac schemes than he’s eaten hot dinners — and he wants everyone to know about it. “Yeah, I guess the fish is okay, but it’s definitely not as good as the swordfish I had at the Freshfields vac scheme. And probably not as good as the tuna steak I had at Clifford Chance either. At Hogan Lovells we had prawn cocktail, and I think we had mussels at Herbert Smith Freehills.” No one cares, but at least it deflects the group hatred away from the insider for a few minutes.

6. The statistician

The total opposite of the man of few words, the statistician wants everyone to know just how much she knows about the firm. She knows exactly how many training contracts are up for grabs, profit per equity partner, what each firm pays, and its latest retention rates. She could probably tell you the square footage of the office space and the height of the water fountain in reception, too.

7. The one who hasn’t studied law yet

He’s bright and he wants to learn, but he just doesn’t have the legal knowledge to keep pace with Miss Confident and friends. He likes to tell people that studying history with the view to becoming a commercial solicitor is the way to go, but after a week pretending to know what damages are, he’s not so sure now. Sometimes he tries to compensate for his lack of law knowledge with anecdotes from Crimewatch.

8. The London first timer

No matter the outcome of the vac scheme, the London first timer is thrilled to just get out of her dingy village in Shropshire for a few weeks. She says “wow” at everything and insists on taking group photos every time the team visits a different train, tube, or bus station. She wants to go sightseeing each evening, but then just complains about the price of drinks at every bar. If anyone at the firm asks her anything, she thanks them for the “amazing experience”.

9. The drinker

There’s always one that pushes it a bit too far at the social drinks and ends up looking a bit green the next morning, but for the drinker that’s just his way of life. A mixture of nerves and growing irritation with the comparer means the drinker must drink at every single opportunity to make the vac scheme bearable. Fingers crossed he doesn’t get so bladdered he makes a pass at the insider’s mum.

10. The senior partner-to-be

Graduate recruitment, don’t even bother looking any further: the senior partner-to-be is the one you want to employ. She’s got corporate law blood running through her veins; she was even wearing a suit and tie in her ultrasound scan. She arrives to the vac scheme (early) wearing a £2,000 suit and carrying an Italian leather briefcase containing only a law firm pen, notepad and oyster card. The rest of the cohort hate her, but only because she’s so annoyingly impressive.