Clifford Chance launches year-round global virtual work experience programme

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By Aishah Hussain on

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.”

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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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