Shearman & Sterling becomes first firm to postpone spring vacation scheme in wake of coronavirus pandemic

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Follows Linklaters decision to suspend insight scheme

Shearman & Sterling has postponed its spring vacation scheme in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The US firm hosts two spring programmes in its London office, the first of which was due to commence on 16 until 27 March. This scheme has been postponed until a later date, according to the firm. No other activity has been affected.

Shearman is understood to be the first law firm to postpone its spring vac scheme amid the growing threat of the novel virus.

Legal Cheek understands other City law firms are now facing tough decisions as to whether to go ahead with their spring schemes, most of which start this month and are open to students from across the UK and overseas.

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Magic circler Linklaters was reported today to have postponed its first-year insight scheme until May. A Links spokesperson said, however, that as of yesterday, “our spring vacation scheme is still going ahead; however, we are monitoring the situation very closely”. Its spring scheme is currently set to run from 30 March until 10 April.

On Wednesday we reported that banking giant Goldman Sachs had postponed its London legal internship, due to start on 30 March, as a precautionary measure in the wake of the global outbreak.

Coronavirus could also delay spring training contract start dates, as we reported last month. Legal Practice Course (LPC) grads returning from exotic ‘gap year’ locations across Asia, including China, Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong, have been urged to heed quarantine advice.

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Worried future vac schemer

This is a nightmare for students. Will they move spring schemes to summer and make them all larger?



I am pretty sure this would count as a force majeure. Unlikely that firms will be reorganising this any time soon (considering the peak of the virus will be in May-June).

At least this will be a good explanation for lack of the work experiences for 2020.


City NQ

Likely so – everyone is already working from home. What is the point of having vac schemers in an empty office?



To boost herd immunity.



At my firm they’re talking about getting as many spring ones in on the summer scheme. Or interviewing for direct TC entry. The limitations on switching to summer will be whether there are enough supervisors and whether the crisis is over by then. Firms needs the schemes to find enough trainees. They’re not just going to sack off whole intakes without a thought.



Imagine trying to bag a TC or even qualify in 2020… Talk about being fu*ked, dead on arrival.


To be fair, this is not unique, similar stuff happens every 4-5 years:

– 1998-1999 – Asian financial and dot-com bubble
– 2003-2004 – Iraq War smashing markets and exchanges and halting all the profitable work in the Middle East
– 2008-2009 – worst time to qualify, firms were actually firing people from existing positions
– 2014 – also difficult, oil prices fell (horrible for project finance, Middle East work), all the profitable Post-Soviet work slowed down because of wars and sanctions etc.

2019/2020 was doomed to have some disaster in the pocket.


We like to move it move it

Not overly worried about qualification. Already locked something in with a department which isn’t market dependent. But agreed it’s a concern for anyone who‘s qualification department relies on a bull run to hire!



I don’t think all of this will be too detrimental to applicants. Ultimately (as mentioned above), the firm’s need to recruit trainees to have them do all the trainee-type tasks. They aren’t recruiting X number of people for an arbitrary reason.

I would expect firms to make some form of alteration, either via reduce Summer schemes (change them from 3 to 2, or 2 to 1 week), or, add another scheme.

The bigger issue may be the broader economic issues which may lead to a slow-down, thus, hitting law firms bottom line. Here is where you could see TC deferrals



Everyone at Clifford Chance ordered to work from home for at least two weeks.


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