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Top City firms confirm summer vacation schemes will stay online

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Magic circle and US outfits stick to virtual programmes as COVID disruption continues

Leading City law firms Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Slaughter and May have confirmed that their summer vacation schemes this year will remain online.

Though the government hopes to lift all social distancing restrictions by 21 June, as detailed in its four-step roadmap out of the lockdown, it’s unclear when exactly lawyers will return to offices. This comes a year after the global spread of coronavirus forced law firms to decide whether to cancel, postpone or move their in-office vacation schemes online.

A Linklaters spokesperson told Legal Cheek that the magic circle firm managed to transfer its 2020 vac schemes into a virtual format with “great success”, while “still enabling participants to benefit from a real insight into the work that we do and the culture of our firm, alongside regular contact and development opportunities within their respective teams”.

Looking ahead to the firm’s two virtual summer vac schemes this year, they said:

“We are fully committed to ensuring that participants derive the same benefits from the scheme as they would when circumstances were different and the schemes were run in the London office.”

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Fellow magic circle member Clifford Chance confirmed that while the bulk of its SPARK scheme, aimed at first year students, will take place online, they will explore providing networking opportunities through optional in-person social events depending on COVID restrictions.

The firm’s interim graduate recruitment manager, Yasmina Kone, said:

“Last year was the first time that firms offered live online work experience placements, and everyone was cautiously optimistic. I think it’s safe to say now that the benefits of virtual schemes are clear: there’s more opportunity to provide a tailor-made experience by giving attendees multiple sessions to choose from at one time; we aren’t limited by space or geographical location in the same way we would be in the office; and actually, we are able to replicate the interactive nature of our sessions incredibly well.”

Elsewhere, Legal Cheek understands that magic circler Freshfields is exploring its options for the summer, although it’s too early to say whether its schemes will take place virtually, while US outfit Skadden confirmed it expects its “near term” vacation programmes to be held online.

Is your vacation scheme going ahead virtually this summer due to COVID-19? Let us know by emailing us at tips@legalcheek.com.

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43 Comments

Don’t bait me out

Firm that rhymes with Clones May also doing theirs online – confirmed by GR.

(21)(1)

Ex-JDP

Lol good luck at that shop son.

(13)(1)

Matt

Bottom tier firm

(19)(1)

Jason

There is no structure to the training contract and the work is inconsistent.

It’s difficult to find an NQ position at another firm that will take you seriously after doing the TC at JD.

(21)(0)

Incoming Lambo Driver at K&E

Shall I pick Dimmons & Rimmons instead

(0)(3)

Johnson

No but if you’re gonna pick a US firm at least pick a good one

Tcseeker

@Johnson: what are the good US firms? By good I mostly mean for training and culture (fewer assholes)

Adam

So what exactly is the different between the Slaughter and May virtual vacation scheme, and their new ‘widening participation’ open access online scheme? Both are run by insidesherpa/forage.

(19)(7)

ESJ

One leads to an interview and would allow you to meet fee earners at the firm/network whilst I imagine the other doesn’t.

(10)(6)

Anon

(Having done an online vac scheme with Links, which also offers a free online taster course like Slaughters now does)

One is a series of automated online tasks you can complete in a few hours, and anyone can do.

The other is an actual vacation scheme, with all the applications that come along with it. It lasts for a couple of weeks, you get paid as you would on an in person vac scheme, and you have all the normal presentations, marked tasks and group work that you would on an in person vacation scheme. It is very tiring.

They are two completely and utterly different things. What a silly question.

(17)(17)

Tom

Did you get the TC, doesn’t sound like it

(4)(3)

Anon

I did as a matter of fact. It was a tiring experience (as agreed by everyone on the scheme) but actually quite enjoyable. The intense pace of the presentations meant we all learned a lot. Obviously sad we missed out on the real life social aspect, but this was about as good as it could be in a virtual format.

The comparisons to an open access online course are just complete nonsense.

(9)(8)

Anon

Law / a TC might not be right for you if you find a vac scheme (and a virtual one at that) tiring.

(9)(16)

Original Anon

Considering they gave us 4 weeks worth of assignments in two weeks, I suggest you do a virtual vacation scheme before opining.

(6)(5)

1 year US NQ

@Orignal Anon wow you’re sharp aren’t you… Quitr acting sassy, now if you think that workload is ‘tough’. Wait until you begin your city law career-you’all see what a real beasting is.

Old Guy

What a stupid comment. To say a young 20-24 year old that finds two weeks of intense presentations and activities is not cut out for a city law job is the sort of rubbish non-City lawyers pretending on Legal Cheek would say. It is tiring for them to be sat at a screen, nervous, having to focus and knowing your every step is assessed. I’m sure they all dress up every day too, whilst those of us who are well into our careers can dress like s**t and just whack on a fleece for most meetings. And there is a difference between studying and working an office job, it takes some time to get used to it. Morons like you, who probably work in some high street firm in Ipswich doing residential conveyancing, come on here spouting rubbish.

(29)(3)

MM

Yeah alright 1st year Lancaster boy , get back to revising

(3)(4)

BA (Oxon)

That’s great and all but what about CMA Academy? Holding out hope it’ll be in person but would happily do it virtually!

(And before anyone starts would rather join a nice and respectable firm with character than the more prestigious MCs known for being brutal).

(11)(3)

Trinity lad

No Oxford student would say this lol

(11)(2)

Magic circle or die

‘Nice and respectable firm’- so not ‘CMA’ I take it?

(2)(2)

Lawstudent88

Wait, who’s Iqra?

(0)(0)

Mickey Mouse vac schemes

Imagine landing a 50k TC which leads to a six figure salary all from a 1 week online internship.

It’s a joke.

(40)(0)

Harvey

Whereas in Investment Banking you have an 8 – 12 week internship.

Law vac schemes should be at least 4 weeks. You can put on a facade for a week or two but by the 3rd or 4th week you can start weeding out the bad candidates and people’s true colours start to show

(28)(2)

FlourPour

The TC is a two year internship.

(12)(13)

FlourPour

I totally agree with you.

A vac scheme for a week or so doesn’t allow firms to see the actual potential of the candidates.

You might have a good week and fluke the tasks during the scheme but had it gone on longer for a few more weeks and you could get a more overall understanding of the abilities and weaknesses of the candidates.

(13)(0)

Joe

The discussion is not about TC’s but Vac Schemes and internships before you are in training. What you are talking about is completely irrelevant to the point

(6)(1)

AJ

Online virtual vac schemes are rubbish.

A firm that rhymes with Bright & Face gave us a load of onlinesherpa tasks during the last vac scheme. There wasn’t much interaction and it was intense.

(17)(19)

Anon

So here’s the issue with this whole comments thread.

Virtual schemes are vastly different. People are talking about them like they’re all the same.

All the ones I did were very interactive, with the MC one a lot more intensive and hands on than the rest (based on the firm intranet rather than insidesherpa)

Pardna

But I only want the ones from Oxbridge or Russell Group firsts.

(4)(1)

Rupert E

Law firms should change their vac schemes to at least 4 weeks and do it so that each week they spend with a different office department like a ‘seat’.

They should make all candidates do a compulsory regulatory and non regulatory seat.

It is more fair if they’re put in the same seats and offices during the Vac Scheme. There are so many factors which play a part beyond doing the work and tasks well.

For example, I have done a few vac schemes and every single time I witnessed how some candidates were in departments where there was no work or the office was so busy that they just sat there fiddling around and weren’t given much to do so the partners and associates in that office told those vac schemers to just focus on the group tasks and other tasks instead.

Whilst some of us had tasks in our office to do ON TOP of the negotiation exercise, group presentation, written tasks etc that we were mainly being assessed on, others could solely focus on the Vac Scheme tasks.

It also comes down to who your mentor is. They are usually a trainee and will feed back to the firm on how you have performed. Again, some trainee mentors go above and beyond to support and help you during the vac scheme whereas others don’t really care and are just doing it because grad rec told them to. Or they are so busy and occupied in their own work that they don’t have as much time to dedicate to you.

I noticed how the vac schemers who perform really well on tasks get such a helping hand from supportive trainee mentors, but again this comes down to luck in who gets who.

These are just a couple of examples but you can tell there are so many discrepancies that come into play during the vac scheme which impact performance and whether or not you’ll get a TC offer.

I think they should harmonise it and make it a more equal playing field for all vac schemers and extending the time would enable that.

(20)(0)

Quinn

You haven’t mentioned the fact that it all comes down to which partner interviews you for the final interview at the end of the TC

(35)(0)

^^^

This. Just this. This is especially true for firms that place a lot of emphasis on the exit interview (like Laughter & Dismay or Facmarlanes).

SG

At a SC firm lets call it Mavers Mith I just did a winter vac scheme with, they told us it was “just a chat” and not an exit interview for the TC.

A few of us had a partner who took it literally as a chat. Mine sat down with me for no longer than a couple mins.

Whereas a few of the others said they had a full on exit TC interview with a different partner.

We were all interviewed by different partners but it was really bizarre because some of us just had a chat for a minute or so whereas others got a proper interview.

I would rather have had the interview than a chat because it would have given me more of an opportunity to say what I’ve learnt and my motivations etc.

Henry G

Another thing to go into a bit more detail is the Vac Scheme tasks you just mentioned.

It’s also difficult to prove that you’re a worthy candidate when you’ve been put into a group task with snakes and/or utter imbeciles.

I thought I hated group tasks at uni until I completed multiple Vac schemes and had the exact same horrid experience working in groups every single time.

You can’t even complain or tell anyone without sound like a 5 year old because no firm will take it seriously that you have been put in a group where other people are being passively aggressively dominant and giving themselves the best talking parts and are leaving you with nothing to say OR they are really dumb and lack common sense and are coming up with stupid ideas which the other members blindly agree to.

And if you disagree with the consensus of the group you end up standing out and looking like the villain.

Let’s not even get into how your fellow group mates during the presentation/negotiation tasks and other activities will try to sabotage you during the performance of the actual task in front of the partners.

The worst part is the partners don’t get to see any of that, they only see the performance on the day but not what is going on behind the scenes.

(16)(1)

Hunger games

Henry why don’t you try stepping up or pushing back? On my vac scheme one of the second tier RG types with an inferiority complex and who clearly did a “AC prep course” or watched a YouTube video on how to succeed during an AC spoke first and attempted to delegate. He dished out all the roles without asking for strengths/weaknesses. When it came to me, there was nothing left to give. Except he hadn’t assigned timer so like a cool cat, I said thanks inferior RG guy, I’ll just mind the time as this is a timed activity after all. LMAO it actually made people laugh and he got red and was absolutely flustered.

Moral of the story…stop worrying about backstabbing and start worrying about elbowing your way into where you need/want to go. If you’re not great at presenting, make yourself valuable in some other capacity. Don’t settle. And advocate for yourself. I hate to say it, but that backstabbing mentality doesn’t end with VS or AC, it continues through the TC.

Get into the hunger games mentality bc yes it’s all about the group but at the end of the day you want to be remembered and the only way to do that is rise above the position of victim.

Aaron

This is why it’s true when they say that the best candidates don’t always get the TC.

There are so many other factors at play and you have to keep trying until the luck comes into your favour.

So much of the TC process is about luck.

(22)(0)

James

The best part of vac schemes is being in the city and meeting new people and the firm taking you out to wine and dine in the best spots and having activities to do. It’s great in the summer. Lovely weather and it all feels so exciting. Even if you don’t get the TC it feels like such a valuable experience and makes for great memories and new friends.

(29)(0)

4th class llb

Firms rhyming with wished on the playa and logan shovels offered TC’s to kids due to take vac schemes last year.

Wonder what they’re planning on doing now.

(8)(1)

Logan Shovels

HL is doing virtual vac schemes for summer 2021 and they did virtual for winter 2020. My friend was on the winter one and said it was about as close to a real VS as you could get. Also not everyone who got the summer VS last year got a TC immediately. Those unfortunates were bumped to winter and had to earn it like everyone else. Wonder why they didn’t make the cut….

(2)(1)

GizABitAdAh

does it really matter, after a TC with HogLove, they’re going to be unemployable anyway

(2)(7)

Inside Scoop

The ones who weren’t offered the TCs first time around were the ones who didn’t have much legal work experience and hadn’t done a vac schemes prior tho the HL one.

Though, I kept in contact with the ones who were bumped to the winter one and literally all of them seem to have been offered a TC so I guess they did end up taking them all on

(4)(0)

HOTTEST GOSS

I’m pretty sure that 1 or 2 people on that VS got dropped… not sure who thooo

(1)(1)

Cheeklegalman

Agree with much of the above. Last Summer some of the most incompetent, passive aggressive people I’ve ever met got offered a training contract based off a presentation or two in front of partners. Training contracts are pretty much the most lucrative graduate job out there and it’s genuinely sickening that people are being given them in the easiest of circumstances (e.g 5 days in front of a screen). Even if I was offered the tc I would genuinely still be questioning the process because bad eggs are so much more likely to get through.

The funny thing is, the actual training contract will end up revealing this at some point so more fool the firms I guess…

(5)(1)

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