Clifford Chance launches year-round global virtual work experience programme

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Exclusive: New approach means there’ll be no summer 2021 vacation scheme — but magic circle firm will continue to offer some in-office internships

Clifford Chance has today announced the launch of its virtual legal internship, as it confirmed it won’t run a traditional summer vacation scheme next year.

The magic circle firm will run its global internships across four continents, the UK, EMEA, the Americas and Asia Pacific, from the beginning of August 2020. It will partner with InsideSherpa, a digital education provider, to deliver the online programme, and the University of York, to provide support around developing “problem-based learning programmes”.

The internships are free and will be open to students from the participating regions regardless of their degree, university or year of study.

CC’s new programme brings together partners and lawyers from across the firm’s network who will create the curriculum and content. The internships will consist of between six and 12 hours of content with each internship focused on “topical, global issues and client work”, including climate change, human rights and cyber security.

Within each internship, students will undergo a series of tasks which aim to replicate the type of work they would undertake as a lawyer. They will have access to pre-recorded videos from partners and senior associates across the participating offices as well as other materials to guide them through the tasks.

Interns will be able to take part at their own pace and there will be no deadline nor requirement to complete the programme. However, those that do will be awarded a certificate from the Clifford Chance Academy.

Laura Yeates, head of graduate talent at Clifford Chance, said:

“By hosting the internships online and making them accessible to a wider audience, we expect the participants to be the most internationally and socio-economically diverse group of students that we have ever welcomed. By removing any financial or physical constraints on the students’ participation we are offering a programme and introduction to law that is both internationally-focused and accessible to all.”

Jeroen Ouwehand, senior partner at Clifford Chance and the programme’s senior sponsor, added:

“Despite the disruption and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, we are committed to providing students across our key markets with the opportunity to experience Clifford Chance’s unique culture and get a better understanding of a career in the law — albeit in a different way.”

Secure your place: The UK Virtual Law Fair Series 2020

Today’s launch comes after the firm decided to run its 2020 summer vacation scheme and SPARK scheme for first year students online in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to move the schemes online was received positively by students and applicants, the firm said.

CC’s graduate recruitment team has now decided that they will not be attending any onsite university career fairs and that they will host all of their careers and networking events online to enable a more diverse cohort of students to participate. A spokesperson from the firm confirmed that this applies to the autumn 2020 milk-round.

The firm will not run a traditional summer vacation scheme next year — it will instead invest in its virtual legal internships, SPARK, LIFT (business internships for future trainees) and its “open access” programme. The firm’s traditional open days will be replaced with “open access” sessions that will take place online and “showcase the very best from the open day schedules” as well as include new content.

Both SPARK and LIFT will continue to take place in-person, the spokesperson confirmed.

CC’s decision comes amid continued coronavirus disruption and could signal to the legal education and training market that more City firms may offer students online work experience opportunities and therefore, access to the legal profession.

The firm previously reduced the number of places available on its summer vacation scheme as it looked to move away from “traditional hiring methods”.

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Virtual work experience is a load of pointless rubbish which benefits nobody except overbearing brown-nosers with Russell Group 2.1s and colour-coded Instagrams, who’ve ‘always wanted to be a lawyer.’



This is nonsense as these virtual schemes will have the complete opposite effect and can be attended by ALL. Why on earth would you want to go and do an in office vac scheme when everyone is working from home. Where’s the value? Working world is changing and it’s NOT going to go back to how it was, stop whinging and get used to it.


1PQE City Associate

You probably have a general problem with understanding how the market really works. What is the point of a vacation scheme which can be attended by all? It may serve a very good educational purpose but it will not bring the students any more closer to getting the training contract. When something can be easily obtained by all, it looses all of its value. This is why sand does not cost much.

When someone sees an offline vacation scheme on your CV, they know that you were one of 60-90 applicants out of 2k or 3k, which were chosen for the scheme after an interview and/or rigorous CV and Cover letter screening. When someone sees an online vacation scheme, which is available to all, they see nothing because everyone else have done it as well.



Rigorous lol


Some city grad recruiter

An astute comment. An “in-office” scheme also allows us to assess the physical fortitude of our future Trainees. If such a thing as Covid-19 could take out these Vac-Schemers, then its telling of how they will hold out when the going gets tough.



1 PQE associate is spot on. Certainly a bit of educative value, but little help in getting a TC.

I heard about a recent online experience scheme in another sector which had 5,000 students signed up. That won’t look distinctive or add value to a CV in the next round of applications.



Disagree – when somebody sees an offline vac scheme they assume you’ve learnt stuff and had some good experience – nobody cares you were chosen – doesn’t mean your good or worth having just because somebody chose your CV and interviewed you



An idiot.


Are you dense? By all I mean that the access will be for all. Those who can’t afford London accommodation can attend from home etc. The vac scheme will still be very limited/exclusive and you’ll have to apply.


Oxbridge 1sts

Russell Group 2:1s, or what we call “the crème de la thick”.


Change Nothing

So true! I give the benefit of the doubt to a Russell Group grad with a good first, as they may have slipped through the interview process, but by the time they have the double negatives of RG and 2:1 they are definitely in the also-rans pile. They might be top of that pile, but they are in it.



How will this affect training contract recruitment by the firm?



SPARK is already CC’s main pipeline for TCs so that’ll be unaffected. Also they’ve only ran one vac scheme of c. 20 people the last few years so it’s not a massive change.



Everything is going digital now it seems. Soon we will not need a body. Our thoughts can be replicated in the cloud, including perceived physical sensations, so there really is no need at all.


City hopeful

Innovative idea but not being in the firm’s office for a VS surely will impact getting a full flavour for the firm’s culture? Sure you can get to know people and network during the online VS sessions, but this won’t replicate sitting within a department or two within the office. I haven’t yet secured a City VS but for me the office experience is as important as the tasks and skills within the scheme.

I hope this virtual VS (if coronavirus concerns were gone) doesn’t start setting a trend like the pay wars. The office experience is a big part and allure of a VS. I agree industries including law have to adapt to changing conditions but if firms were to go purely online for VS indefinitely it could harm the nature of a VS.



The office experience is only useful whilst the office is full of trainees, Associates and Partners every day. I suspect that is now a thing of the past. If I were told I had to be back in the office 5 days a week after this I’d be handing my notice.

I suspect what will transpire is some kind of blended virtual/real life scheme, reflective of the 2/3 days a week in the office that firms’ lawyers will likely do.

Culture is still crucial to law firms, particularly for cross selling and staff retention, and returning to an office will help sustain it. But, the carrot of reduced rental costs (the number 2 cost at must firms) and stick of Associate demands, will likely see mixed home and office working become the norm.

In that context, having vac schemers in the office on a Friday in July would probably leave one Associate and a trainee dealing with 5 vac schemers, which isn’t a good experience for anyone.



Greenwang Glusker LLP have launched a rival virtual work experience programme.

Developed in collaboration with Activision, the makers of the Call of Duty series, I am pleased to announce…

Call of Glusker: Modern Titan.

Call of Glusker is a first-person vac scheme simulator. Players start as a level 1 CMS trainee but, as they level up, they unlock new and more powerful classes: Freshfield associate, JD equity partner, KE NQ (with model girlfriend), and finally the toppest top titan of them all: managing partner of Greenwang Glusker LLP’s Rotherham office.

Can you earn a phat wedge while piloting your Lambo through the mean streets of Knightsbridge?

Call of Glusker. Available now on PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Wii.


This could be

Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome


Parcel Fish

I don’t see how this can be viewed as a substitute for the vacation scheme. It seems like a completely different beast. There is no networking, no actual work, and presumably no interview for training contract upon completion. It seems comparable to those online qualifications which are so popular now, offered by Harvard and the like.

It’s great that Clifford Chance are offering this. It seems like a really great way to gain insight. But it’s not clear how this will assist them in recruitment.



Definitely agree that it is not a suitable substitute for an actual VS. Granted, everyone is not in the office so you cannot get a full flavour of the firm that a VS offers, but neither does sat at home in front of a laptop.

Also, crucially, doing and completing a VS is a valuable piece of work experience that is looked on favourably by recruiters – open, free-for-all schemes (as nice as it may be to open the scheme up to wider demographics) will demonstrate that you can fill a sign up form out.

This type of scheme is useful and will provide some insight, but is open to anyone and recruiters can see right through that (despite how many legal bloggers want to brag that they’ve ‘secured’ a place).

For these online schemes to have any of the real worth that the traditional VS had, firms must make the application process as vigorous as any other VS/TC process. Otherwise the VS will become a diluted version of what it once was.


Close Call

CC doing a fantastic job of making sure none of their applicants get sight of the sweatshop until they’re locked into a 2 year training contract.

This isn’t that different to what they do already – previous vac schemes have seen people actually in office for a maximum of 2 days. The rest of the time is spent in classrooms listening to lectures being assessed on how brown you can get your nose.



CC already recruit some of the most tragic trainees in the industry already.

This will only exacerbate the issue.

How do they intend to weed out the incels? If they are recruiting based off some online tosh, they’ll be recruiting all the gimps who want to ask a question 2 minutes into an online presentation that involves merely inverting a topical word into a practise area – “Hello, my name is X, I study at Y, here’s my back story no one asked for or cares about. How is coronavirus affecting your corporate team? Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you”.




Incels bill a fortune and are happy to live life never being promoted higher than “Senior Associate” or, the most tragic title of all “Counsel” (ie not partner). Being tragic is a plus when it comes to profitability of the units in question.



I’m sure CC have told you their extensive recruitment plans going forward. What’s tragic is your employability – focus on that 2:1 buddy.



Can’t beleive I even considered accepting my TC offer from these melts.

I don’t think I could bear being associated with this level of moistness.



With your spelling, they would have promptly put your application into the bin.



Can’t wait for the undergrads to change their LinkedIn titles to “Incoming Year-Round Global Virtual Work Experience Programme Offer Holder at Clifford Chance LLP”


What are they doing

Well, as an undergraduate that wipes off Clifford Chance as a firm I’m considering.



They’ll be gutted, I’m sure.



The equivalent of printing more money.


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