River cruises, cookery lessons and afternoon tea — a round-up of the best summer vac scheme activities

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Not much law

Summer vac scheme season is well underway, which can only mean one thing: City law firms tripping over themselves to show that their bunch of young training contract seekers are having an incredible time.

Last summer, there were jollies to Paris courtesy of Clifford Chance, painting masterclasses for Linklaters‘ lot and crash courses in pizza making over at DWF.

But what have this year’s group of aspiring City lawyers been up to that’s totally not law-related? Legal Cheek has selected some of the best:

Herbert Smith Freehills‘ vac schemers took part in a ‘chocolate making workshop’.

Meanwhile, Linklaters’ group of TC hunters were treated to a champagne-filled ride on the London Eye.

Freshfields‘ lot channeled their inner Gordon Ramsay as part of an ‘Underground Cookery School’.

In a change of pace, it was an adrenaline-fuelled powerboat ride along the Thames for Hogan Lovells‘ squad.

Ditching the Domino’s ‘Two for Tuesday’ deal, Ashurst‘s vac schemers were taught how to make freshly made pizza.

Baker McKenzie‘s lawyer hopefuls indulged in a spot of afternoon tea while cruising along the Thames — hopefully at a slightly gentler pace than Hogan Lovells’ lot.

Travers Smith‘s summer cohort spent the evening stealing the Crown Jewels, apparently.

It was cocktails on the terrace while watching the World Cup for Allen & Overy‘s group.

And a game of darts down the boozer for Macfarlanes‘ training contract seekers.

Eversheds Sutherland‘s bunch had to escape in fancy dress.

And Pinsent Masons‘ vac schemers got to grips with Mixology.

Did anyone actually do any legal work?


Graduate Recruitment Partner

Keep them away from the associates at all costs.



“courses in pizza making over at DWF.”

That’s odd: I thought DWF instituted mandatory cold-calling and multi-level marketing courses for all vac schemers ahead of the £1bn IPO roadshow. That share price needs to stay puffed up so Leatherpants is happy.


Links 3PQE

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.



What did this post say?



What, no pictures from the Jones Day vacation scheme? ☹️



The Jones Day pictures are on another sort of website.


JD Partner

Our chocolate making workshop has become legendary.



The chocolate starfish is surprisingly popular.



No one gives a shit about Jones Day. Stop posting Jones Day related comments.






Eat my choad.



Jones Day is not a real law firm.



What is it then?


Could say…..but then would have “This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy….”

Aside: do we actually KNOW what Legal Cheek’s comments policy IS…..?!!


Who are you to say what a real law firm is or isn’t? You sit there doing all the legwork and the photocopying and the lower level work. Do you even have your own cases or do you just support associates?


“If you’re interesting in applying for our 2019 Vacation Scheme”

Only a quality shop like Ashurst could manage to have a typo in its social media recruitment posts.



your a moron



As a trainee at one of these firms (I didn’t do a Vac Scheme) I think they’re really stupid and pointless. It just gives firms more of a chance to filter out who they want to give a TC and to what extent they will go to shmooze them (Look at the ratio of people from different ethnic backgrounds).
In no way does it teach someone about the life of a lawyer and in no way does it appropriately assess someone’s ability to be a lawyer.

Complete rubbish.



Hear hear.

I detested every single vac scheme I attended. They all consisted of, in no particular order, public school toffs, endless puffery and inane droning conversations about seemingly nothing. Their ultimate value was dubious to both the candidate and the firm.



Maybe you should, and this is just a suggestion, apply to firms whose culture and values actually suit your personality and beliefs about the legal profession? Again, just a suggestion.



You’re absolutely right: that’s precisely why I moved from the MC to a US Wall Street law firm, and I couldn’t be happier.



You work in HR or something? Vac schemes are notorious for being a spineless popularity contest, there’s zero legal knowledge or skill involved.



No, I’ve completed a couple of vac schemes this summer myself and around 95% of the vac schemers were good people. I worked on a wide variety of tasks and had the chance to sit down with senior associates and partners and talk to them about why they were there, why I wanted to be there and how I was finding the work/people/office. I left both vac schemes with a genuine appreciation of and insight into the culture, the people and the work at those firms.

If you hate the vac schemes you’ve done as much as you say you do, then you could be (a) failing to appreciate the competitive nature of graduate recruitment; (b) just unlucky as to the cohort on your specific intakes; or (c) just as insufferable as the people you’re shitting all over but are unable to see this due to your own immaturity. My money is on a combination of (a) and (c).

I reckon you’re a second/third year student who is bitter about the success of others, and this is made worse by you neglecting to reflect on your own failings. This then puts you in a position where you have achieved a diametric view of the process, whereby law firms’ primary recruitment criteria cannot possibly be based upon merit, enthusiasm and ability but instead upon a set of elusive factors that are ultimately geared specifically against you.

But, I have also worked in HR – and they are, whilst not legally trained, for the most part given a set of objective criteria upon which they can make judgments on specific candidates according to the needs and interests of the firm. It seems like you have a very simplistic view of the world which is so very against you, please grow up. Also, apologies for the wall of text, but it’s your fault really.


Congratulations, you’ve managed to thumb up your own comment 73 times.


First, incorrect; secondly, Ad hominem.


No one cares.


‘I left both vac schemes with a genuine appreciation of and insight into the culture, the people and the work at those firms’

Are you actually to hit every grad rec cliche in one sentence or is this some sort of unhappy accident?

Gerd rac

Your cynicism is understandable yet upsetting.


I agree. I did vac schemes at Freshies, Slaughters & Cleary. Most of the vac schemers were insufferable wankers from places like Durham and Exeter. A complete waste of time.



Why don’t firms send vaccers on a day or two of helping out at homeless shelters, or repainting a community kids’ club, or some other useful work? They must all have pro bono clients who can explain to the hopefuls what their needs are and their relationships with the firm. Both applicants and firms would learn more about the other that way.

Failing that, they could just sit the people with associates and let them watch the work being done. The vaccers could do some photocopying or tea making – which is what they’ll be doing anyway if they get taken on.

This jolly stuff is transparently just cynical marketing. My advice to anyone thinking of applying for a vac scheme is to be suspicious of any firm that does pointless ‘fun’, ‘glamorous’ activities: if the firm was any good, and was confident and honest about itself, why would they do this?



Addleshaw until recently had an on-boarding trip to Romania for new Trainees to help with construction projects, i.e. building houses etc for the locals.



Which has now been replaced by a week in a hotel in Coventry….



Why would anyone want to do that?!



Did you vote for Brexit?



It sounds like you have never been on a Vac scheme or worked in a law firm.

Students do sit with associates on Vac schemes and they do assist with some of the work that would normally allocated to trainees.

Also why do you think trainees at the firms mentioned in the article only photocopy and make cups of tea? Why would those firms pay people over 40k as a first year trainee and be planning on using them for lots of fee earning work once they qualify at their firm and then only ask them to photocopy and make cups of tea during their training contract? How would they be prepared for fee earning work once they are qualified if they have only ever photocopied and made cups of tea?

Also why is incorporating “fun” social activities in a vacation scheme a clear sign that the firm is of low quality and is insecure?



I kinda agree with vac schemes being full of toffs. A bit of an off-story, I studied in Scotland and had an interview for a TC at Slaughters. The partners were really nice but when I met the trainee after for a tour, his first question was “what college did you go to”. Upon telling him I didn’t go to neither Oxford nor Cambridge, his enthusiasm to me dropped.



Just Europeans and Middle-Easterns as those are the only regions Law Firms really care about.



Play “spot the straight white male” – Where’s Wally, the law firm version.



Watching the World Cup on the terrace at A&O, the “staying in” with a microwave meal of the vacation scheme activities! Serious change to the boat trips and cooking activities of previous years!


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