Shoosmiths first firm to cancel 2020 summer vacation scheme amid COVID-19 disruption

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Exclusive: Candidates will still be considered for training contracts

Shoosmiths has cancelled its summer vacation scheme in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The national firm was due to run forty, week-long placements across its offices in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading and Solent in June 2020.

Shoosmiths confirmed to Legal Cheek it informed candidates yesterday that its summer vacation placement has been cancelled.

It is understood to be the first law firm to cancel its summer vac scheme due to the COVID-19 disruption.

“In line with the government’s recent advice, we now need to consider stronger measures to protect our employees, candidates and community, with the likelihood of this outbreak continuing into the summer. So, we have now made the difficult decision to cancel our summer vacation placement due to take place in June,” a spokesperson for the firm said, adding:

“We’re sorry candidates won’t be able to experience face-to-face time with Shoosmiths, but we will be arranging alternative ways to engage with our people including more #ShoosmithsLIVE videos and Q&As.”

Shoosmiths stressed to students who submitted a vacation placement application in this year’s round that they will still be considered for training contracts. The firm is closely monitoring the situation but expects there to be “some changes or postponement to our assessment process”.

“We are not closing the doors; we are still very keen to recruit across many areas of the business,” the spokesperson continued. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to grow our junior talent and will continue to use our social media platforms to speak to candidates every day. We’re still very interested to hear from you and we are committed to recruiting and onboarding the talent we still need.”

Earlier this month the firm cancelled all upcoming face-to-face events, including a number of open days, insight evenings and university visits.

The 2020 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Vacation schemes are open to students and graduates from across the UK and overseas to experience life at a firm, and often have a number of social activities scheduled for the week(s).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson enforced strict social distancing measures on Monday. The public are encouraged to avoid “non-essential” contact and work from home where possible to curb the spread of the novel virus.

In recent weeks we’ve seen a number of law firms heed government advice and postpone their spring vacation schemes. The majority were due to run from Monday (30 March) until early to mid-April. A total of 18 law firms have taken this action so far.

View a list of law firm schemes postponed due to COVID-19 so far. This page will be updated as we receive new information.

Has your scheme been affected by the coronavirus? Let us know at

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This is going to be brutal



Another lost generation of NQs and trainees.

Just like 2007-9.

Lucky for those qualifying in 2018.

Law is a queue, you know.


What a stupid thing to say. You speak as if they are going on WWI and not a recession l, which will be gone in 6 months.



At least the 2007/8 generation were not carrying £50,000 worth of debt.

You should have voted for Jeremy Corbyn, rather than let that compound interest badboy swallow your life.

Jeremy Corbyn and socialism is the future.

A Universal Basic Income for all, it’s the only way to help people. A windfall tax on City greed in the fat times to pay for it.



You’re complete idiot if you think this “will be gone in six months”.

Keep your head in the sand little ostrich, there you go. And go buy some shares whilst you’re at it with whatever money you have left, rumours have it the market bottomed out already.


Come one, this country (not speaking about the law profession) have survived more than mid size pandemic and so far not that destructive economic crisis. Definitely necessary to care about loved ones, try to help and encourage them, otherwise there is nothing to be particularly worried about.

This will all pass soon enough, people are panicking way too much now. Financially – what is the worst that can happen? You will not be evicted from your home – the landlord cannot force you out now and the banks have frozen mortgage payments. Your priceless stock portfolio will temporarily loose 20% of its value? Who cares, it will rise back within a couple of years. You will loose your job? This country is not a socialist paradise but it has decent social protections, you will not find yourself on the street.


I don’t think firms should continue recruiting given we don’t know the impact the virus will have on the economy, they could end up having to take less trainees or defer incoming trainees. I think the focus should be on figuring out what is happening before rushing into anything.



Firms will definitely not be recruiting, TCs will be cancelled and there will be mass layoffs of support staff and lawyers.


Dr Tubb, CFA

Sadly I have to concur. The economic downturn due to Covid-19 will be of epic proportions, far greater and deeper than the 2008 Financial Crisis. Vacation Schemes will be completely cancelled, TC hiring frozen/delayed and existing TCs possibly revoked.

Over the Atlantic, the US is on the verge of an utter sh*tstorm with infection rates surging way past any other country, and no amount of Fed’s money printing will soften the blow. So far it’s only guessing how bad is impact going to be on the global economy.

Save your cash kids and exit out/sell off your stocks if you haven’t already, the market still has a long way to go before it bottoms out.


Lionel Hutz, Attorney at law

Very likely. 100% of TCs were cancelled in 2008. Then all the rejected future trainees disappeared from the face of the Earth and no one has ever heard from them to this day.



I disagree, they will still need trainees for 2022 and upwards and some law firms will fare better than others. Also departments with strong restructuring practices will be very busy. If anything firms will either delay TC assessment centres/interviews to later dates or change their assessments to fit an online setting. I don’t think every firm will go the same route as Shoosmiths, so I wouldn’t worry too much in my opinion.



Absolutely won’t retain trainees, offers will be rescinded and there will be mass redundancies.


Joe Bloggs

Could be a problem if you’re looking for a 2022 trainee slot now, If firms have to defer their current offer holders to 2021 and 2022..



Your optimism is naive in the extreme. “Strong restructuring practices” you say? Once the dust settles, even the financially healthy firms will be bleeding money.

God be with you if you’ve recently moved firms/are about to move firms and will be working your probation period during this mess.



Considering I actually work in the legal industry and know what’s going on, stop spitting negativity.


Take a look at this flog

Uh-huh, cool, we all work in the legal industry bro. I’m sure you know above and beyond all of us lmao


White Walker

I think the worse that will happen is TCs for 2020 and 2021 will be deferred. And summer TC interviews for 2022 will be cancelled



Not just trainees, this will be death by a thousand cuts.


Asking for a friend

What kind of firms are most likely to cut future trainees?



Whilst I like a little S and M as much as the next man, cutting is a little too far.



Realistically all of the City firms


Provincial Wales

One things lawyers love to do, is to predict doom and gloom and economic downturn. They forget that they are one of the few professions to do well out of a recession.


Terrified fee earner

I really wish you’re right mate.


Future Trainee

Surely this only applies industry wide?

Can’t see many M&A deals happening over the next quarter..



Anticipated mass redundancies in lots of practice groups


Employment Lawyer

*rubs hands gleefully*


S&M Incoming Vac Schemer

How’s this going to affect firms that hire exclusively through Vac schemes? I know Mishcon have already moved their Spring intake to Summer, but if they now have to cancel their Summer??


They will hire through direct applications? Or do online interviews. Circumstance change, firms change. Now we have 70 year old partners hosting Zoom team meetings – could not imagine this even 2 months ago.


Zoomed up

Lmao this got me. Picturing a 70 yr old partner on zoom struggling to mute.



Simple, they just won’t hire exclusively through Vac Schemes



So, you chose to do an LLB at Warwick, rather than your friends who went into medicine or engineering. Law is a safe bet, right? And easy money compared to banking.

You grew up in leafy suburbia in the south of England, your father knows someone, and you have some idea of different practice groups. You score a TC with a Silver Circle firm. It’s a great work/life balance – good status, pay comparable to MC firms, but the hours are less difficult.

But then the coronavirus came and knocked you for six. The partners immediately skedaddled, into their “home offices” in their million pound badboy Islington townhouses. The paralegals and contract workers mysteriously disappeared one day. Then, all the secretaries stopped bantering with each other. Jill from accounts packed up her things and headed off, never to be seen again. Associates start ducking into stationary cupboards for secretive calls with recruiters.

You’re puzzled – there’s plenty of work coming through, people are still hitting you with your billables? Law is a safe bet, right? The partner comes in with some bad news. You’re fired. You won’t even complete your TC and qualify. That’s it. End of career. Your mate from private equity has also been fired.

Welcome to the working class. Tesco are hiring, if you’re interested.


Jez stop being a wet wipe

And you will remain a grad with no TC what so ever

Unfortunately for your smugness lad most firms will do is defer 2020 TCs.



Yep, I’m sure: have a look at what’s already going on at Fieldfisher, then come back mate.



This was discussed on a ROF thread – what is actually going on over at Fieldfisher? I know Knights have cut wages etc. but Fieldfisher is the first City firm of any repute I’ve heard taking steps.


Fieldfisher insider info

It’s a bloodbath I hear


Fieldfisher cut up to 50 support staff today


MC Assoc

Calm your tits ppl. Sure M&A and some banking departments will be less busy but dispute resolution and private equity will thrive (as was the case with the 2008 meltdown and immediate aftermath of brexit referendum )

DR lawyers are currently drowning in work – cancelled contracts, delays, etc. take your pick. Everyone is at 200% capacity so yeah – hiring will continue.

For full service firms that can hedge slower M&A pipelines with other more buoyant practices it will be business as usual.



Sure, let’s just assume all shall be just like in 2008 lmaooooooo



Pay cuts and layoffs imminent


Busy disputes associate

Why? Really see no reasons for that. Hiring freezes of non restructuring jobs – could be (considering uncertainty) but why layoffs?



Because law firms are businesses and partners care about PEP, M&A clients, real estate clients etc have disappeared


Busy disputes associate

I think you are speaking from pre-2008 crisis market. M&A practice no longer dominates any City law firm I know. Now it seems to be more about funds, private equity and disputes. Real estate clients were never that big anyway (but High street may obviously suffer from it).

One thing is that associates will only get busier now that the firms are not doing lateral hires (and you have to be really thick to start thinking about leaving in the current climate, unless you have a 100% guaranteed position somewhere).



Private Equity definitely dominates most US firms!


Interested one

Will PE suffer?



PE clients will definitely be watching and waiting until the bottom falls out of the market in gyms, hotel chains etc, there will be no quick movement


Future Magic Circle Trainee 2022

What are the chances my TC offer will be rescinded if I don’t start until 2022?


Stressed student

Selfish question here- I have a TC offer from a MC firm that I have accepted and am due to start the GDL in September, with my eventual start date being August 2022. How likely is it that my offer will be rescinded? Or is it possible that I will be unaffected?



Law firm partners are not sentimental or paternal so inevitably salary cuts/redundancies are imminent. Think you will be ok for 2022 start as the markets will have stabilised by then and PE funds etc will be confident to Invest


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