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Freshfields and Taylor Wessing summer vacation schemes will go ahead — online

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City law firms continue to switch to virtual programmes amid virus disruption

Freshfields and Taylor Wessing have announced their 2020 summer vacation schemes will go ahead, virtually, in view of the virus pandemic.

Freshfields was due to run two, three-week long summer vacation schemes at its City headquarters. The virtual version will continue to take place during June and July, as originally planned, but will be shorter in length in light of the current crisis, the firm confirmed yesterday. Participants will be remunerated the weekly £450 sum.

Vacation schemes are work placements open to students and graduates from across the UK and overseas to experience life at a law firm. They result in an interview for a training contract at the firm. It is unclear how Freshfields will assess participants for training contracts at this stage.

A Freshfields spokesperson told Legal Cheek the firm remains committed to recruiting trainees amid the continued virus disruption, adding:

“We will also be hosting our UK summer vacation schemes this year, adapting them as necessary. They will be delivered virtually, taking into account the safety and wellbeing of the participants. We remain committed to investing in talent and will not alter the compensation structure that was communicated to those participating in the schemes.”

They continued: “We look forward to providing our vacation scheme participants with an engaging experience at Freshfields, as they learn from our talented and knowledgeable lawyers through their work on complex projects across the breadth of our practices.”

Virtual student event: What COVID-19 means for future lawyers — with Pinsent Masons, Willkie Farr, the SRA and ULaw on Tuesday 12 May

Meanwhile, Taylor Wessing confirmed it will continue to run its summer scheme, albeit online. The virtual vac scheme will be completed over the course of one week instead of the usual two weeks in June and July. Students will be paid as usual for taking part.

A TW spokesperson told this website: “It is important for us to provide as much certainty as we can to our people, and the cohort of students who will be joining us in the UK as part of our insight days and our summer vacation scheme this year.”

In March, the City firm held virtual insight days for over 50 students. It now hopes to build on this experience.

The spokesperson said: “Similar to our insight days, we’ve had to look at ways that balance what can feasibly be delivered remotely, while still delivering the best experience.”

As a result, the firm is working to convert a number of its original vacation scheme exercises into “virtually friendly ones”, along with some new opportunities and skills sessions. “It remains a priority to create a fulfilling, interesting and interactive programme, and that our summer scheme can still go ahead,” the spokesperson added.

TW recruits trainees solely from its vacation schemes. Legal Cheek understands the firm will use the new platform to assess candidates’ performance in order to make training contract decisions.

Today’s news comes as Clifford Chance and Pinsent Masons put in place similar measures to move their summer vacation schemes online.

Virtual student event: What COVID-19 means for future lawyers — with Pinsent Masons, Willkie Farr, the SRA and ULaw on Tuesday 12 May

14 Comments

Anon

Just put them through a TC-application process online. Hold interviews that way.

US 1st year

I know there is no easy solution to this problem and that this is probably the best compromise, but I think that a virtual vac schemes is such a dilution of the real experience of a proper vac scheme that they’re almost not worth having. If the point is to find future trainees, you’re better off just putting them straight through to an all day virtual assessment (e.g. with written essays and multiple interviews, etc.) for a TC. The vac schemers will learn nothing on the vacation scheme and supervision will be very difficult.

MC trainee

Completely agree US 1st year

Pause

Does anyone think firms that do open days instead of vac schemes will do the same?

curious

Does anyone know if they’ll still get the cursory payment for participating in the scheme? If so, I would be surprised if they get the full amount.

Anonymous

Yes they’re getting three weeks full pay

Anon

Vac schemers are there to help the trainees with bundling/bibling (ideally competently), be good fun on a night out and, if they’re lucky, vaguely acknowledged by a partner as having been in the year above the partner’s child at school (therefore guaranteeing a TC as the only one the partner recognises in the slightest).

None of this can be achieved virtually.

reader

This is exactly how mine went, it’s sad that this year’s intake won’t get that same experience…

Bloated MC trainee (future equity partner)

Sux to be them lmaoooo

Joe

If law firms are going to hand out TCs depending on how well the online tasks were performed, how are they going to factor in those candidates who lives in cramped housing, with bad WiFi, have to share a computer/laptop amongst family members and don’t have webcams etc. Once again it will put those vac schemers at a disadvantage.

Also, as some commenters have said above, it’s not an authentic vac scheme experience. No better than the Sherpa virtual vac schemes online.

I think Hogan Lovells have taken the best approach. Hand out as many TCs as they can and have the remaining candidates in their next available winter/Easter vac schemes. This way no vac scheme candidate is at a disadvantage

Anon

What about candidates who can’t do the new dates?

There’s advantages and disadvantages. There is no approach that doesn’t potentially disadvantage some candidates.

A thought

I’m sure they have already thought about those options and thought about those situations. You say move them to winter vac schemes but then that’s a whole different cycle so what about those who wanted to original apply in winter? I think they are trying to manage the influx of applications whilst managing their current vac schemes that are being delayed or disrupted.

Just a thought

I’m sure they’ve thought about those situations and taken those factors to account. You say just move them to winter vac schemes but how easy is that in reality? What about those that originally wanted to apply for the winter vac schemes? I think they are trying to manage their current VS as best they can to avoid having to move them to different cycles.

Thanks

Unprecedented times calls for unprecedented measures.

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