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Don’t get ‘super sh*tfaced’ at socials and don’t ask lawyers about working hours: Reddit users list their top vac scheme ‘pitfalls’

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27

Wannabe lawyers take note

As this year’s round of summer vac schemes gets under way, insiders took to Reddit to share their collective wisdom on the subject. Legal Cheek has distilled the discussion into eight top tips to help students make the most of their vac schemes and bag that TC!

1. Don’t stop taking notes

Although a famous cliché, it’s really important to get all the information you might need when being briefed or attending a talk. One Reddit contributor, who goes by the name of ‘chavvy partner’, warns against vac schemers who are “selective about what they write and when, as if they have any idea what’s important”.

The end result is: “I’m now trying to take notes myself while also leading the meeting and it’s making me edgy because something is going to be missed, plus you will definitely cock up the task or annoy my associate with questions after we finish this conversation”. Firms don’t issue their branded pens and notebooks to vac schemers for nothing.

2. Don’t forget this is a job interview

Law firms famously pepper their vac schemers with lots of little treats including drinks and networking events with members of the firm. Although this is a more relaxed part of the vac scheme, don’t forget that this is still part of the interview. “Remember that the trainees are always watching and they will report back on you. Don’t completely let your guard down around them, although you can be more colloquial with them than partners of course”, one cautions.

Another advises, “now isn’t the time to get super shitfaced or worse, try to add me to your selfie-led Instagram profile”. They recommend alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and getting a cab immediately if “you start feeling like you want to blurt out deeply personal stories, or like you want to kiss or punch someone”. Avoid drama at all costs! Teetotallers are also well-advised not to be too pious: “now probs isn’t the time to let all the old booze hounds know about their unhealthy lifestyle”.

3. Don’t write an overly ambitious law essay for research tasks

If given a research task, one insider explains, provide “all the sources in a helpful format and be ready to talk about them, answer the actual question in a summary, and highlight points that are ambiguous”. This is not the time for you to emulate Lord Denning’s legal reasoning. Make sure your writing is succinct and well-referenced with good spelling and grammar. If you don’t, expect this reaction: “no Hugo, I’m not going to take your two para unreferenced email as a definitive answer to this tricky point of law, but thanks for sending it to me at 1730 and then leaving so that I’ll be doing the research myself again this evening”.

4. Don’t ask associates or partners questions about how many hours they work

This is a question that, deep-down, you probably already know the answer to and is likely “make it sound like you are bored of working here before you even started”, one poster writes. “Just be honest with yourself and if you want genuine work life balance, probably don’t be [a] City lawyer, it’s okay to not want your job to be a big part of your life, but it’s not very realistic for most lawyers in international firms, the job involves endlessly responding to other people’s emergencies”. Besides, The Legal Cheek Firms Most List have you covered if you really want to know!

Less than a week to go! Apply now: The Legal Cheek Summer 2022 Virtual Vacation Scheme

5. Don’t ask weird personal questions in an attempt to build rapport

Whilst the firm will do everything they can to make you feel welcome, don’t get carried away. Reddit contributors agree that “really open questions about ‘my journey as a lawyer’” or worse, offering your supervisors tips on their draft of a document is not going to win you any friends.

After some apparently “creepy” interactions, one apparently experienced supervisor recommends vac schemers “join in conversation like you would in any other scenario where you don’t know people yet, cautiously and with the level of deference you might offer to the parents of your most attractive date that you don’t want to mess up with”. A useful dictum to stick to is “be nice to all our support staff, and have normal human conversations at appropriate times”.

6. Don’t brag about your uni or grades

This is only likely to irritate your fellow vac schemers and distract you from what really matters: doing any work assigned to you on the scheme really well. “Do good work!”, reiterates one insider, adding, “if the research report you gave to me was crap you’re not getting the job”. “You would be amazed at how frequently I’ve been given absolute crap by students who have apparently fancy CVs”, confesses another contributor. Besides, once you’re at the vac scheme, the chances are that everyone has pretty good grades anyway. There’s no need to “act like you are in the hunger games”.

7. Don’t ignore the value of doing some boring tasks well

Although it may not be the exciting work experience in the world, supervisors will always appreciate vac schemers who make their lives a little bit less stressful. “Help with things like marketing research or admin that I can’t charge for”, suggests one spy. “I know it’s boring but you’ll have actually helped make my week easier, which I’m likely to remember fondly”.

8. Don’t overstay your welcome

Stories are often passed around about how putting in long hours on your vac scheme are the key to getting a TC. But, generally, if your supervisor tells you to go home, just go home. Normally, “it’s code for I would like my office back to myself now and also I actually want you to enjoy your evening”. Asking intelligent questions when you are unsure about something and not over-promising on work that you know you will struggle with is good way of avoiding staying late and frustrating your supervisor.

Do you have any vac scheme don’ts? Let us know in the comments below!

Less than a week to go! Apply now: The Legal Cheek Summer 2022 Virtual Vacation Scheme

27 Comments

Anon

Disagree with 4. I lateralled to a US firm and asked literally everyone I met what the working hours were like. Firms want people who are going into it eyes open.

(81)(1)

🦄 Soph Space ❄️

LC, you’re not allowed to say sh*tfaced any more! It might upset students born after 2000!

You have to say “poopoofaced” now.

Please rectify.

(3)(17)

Anon

What is going on with salaries at links and a&o – assuming they still haven’t matched?

(28)(4)

LL 1PQE

Links “aren’t rushing in” to match and are reviewing pay for another few weeks

(27)(2)

OST

Maximise the family or old school contacts. They are worth a fortune.

(23)(13)

Surprised bystander

An actual helpful LC article, who would’ve thought…

(13)(6)

1PQE

LC being helpful? Or just brazenly plagiarised from a popular social media website as if like LadBible? The fact that LC “journalists” are sleuthing makes me more reluctant to post on Reddit now.

(23)(1)

Wise Old Man

#9: don’t talk down to Chill Paralegal. It won’t go down well with anyone.

(49)(2)

Third Seater

Usually not the case that trainees will report back to those higher up the chain. You’d have to say/do something horrendous.

Fine to ask about hours, just frame it as a “patterns of work” question. Agree that too many people go into practice without any idea of the time demands. Firms are there to make money, which involves making a client happy. Given the quality of legal advice is pretty consistent across large international firms then the thing that distinguishes you is responsiveness and commerciality…

(32)(5)

Anon

Shoutout to all those (including me) who did presentation style online vac schemes because of Covid and now are entering corporate law without having stepped foot in a corporate environment!

(35)(5)

Lol

Loool I do wonder for those that did VS virtually and got a TC that way

(3)(0)

The bitter truth

Don’t ask associates or partners questions about how many hours they work

Why?

Because doing so reveals that the harsh truth – most city lawyers are depressed slaves who don’t even have the time to truly enjoy their earnings. The truth of city practice is that everyone below partner is an over taxed wage slave depressed and most likely addicted to drugs.

Partners themselves are nothing more than glorified relationship managers with ridiculously fragile egos. Contrary to the empty BS you see on most graduate recruitment websites, most city firms do not care about meritocracy. Progression is based on office politics and whether you are liked by senior staff. If you fail to bend the knee to seniors and navigate office politics prepare to be pushed out or have your career prospects crushed by a glass ceiling until you get the hint and leave on your own accord.

(28)(16)

Tl;dr

You could’ve just said you didn’t make partner and work in house mate

(26)(6)

IateaswanandIlikedit

The Bitter Truth is quick to tell everyone how much better in-house is. Everyone.

(10)(0)

Anon

So the dream of promotion turned into a lifetime of bitterness?

(6)(1)

Dim Nice-Butt Tim

Or you could be a criminal barrister and enjoy your day job but work for a pittance….

(2)(0)

Shakyclaim

Well I’m done posting on the uklaw subreddit now. This is pathetic even for legal cheek.

(9)(1)

Dan

Don’t get too drunk, but also stay for at least a couple, or ideally 3 or 4.

No harm in asking about working hours within the team you’re in – it’ll differ a lot between different teams in a firm and if you don’t ask the juniors in a team about the hours that would strike me as a little odd or a lack of interest.

(5)(0)

Oxford (Brookes) low 2.1

#9 Don’t forget your drynites nappies in case you spend the night in a sleeping pod. No one wants to clean your wee up.

(0)(3)

Anonymous

Are you one of those who took tippex to your degree certificate?

(3)(1)

Alan

I’d comment but I don’t want to be set upon by the woke police again.

(2)(2)

Anon

A good outcome for you and for everyone else.

Your pathetic efforts at flaming were quite the bore. What do you do when Farage is not on GB News?

(6)(3)

Wokey McWokeface

He posts tedious anon comments on the internet.

(2)(2)

Archibald O'Pomposity

“I’d comment but I don’t want to be set upon by the woke police again.”

‘Alan’, you need to work on building your tolerance of people who are different to you. Not everyone looks, acts or thinks the same way you do. You’ll become happier and more fulfilled if you embraced the differences between you and other people, instead of making endlessly snarky below-the-line comments under cover of anonymity. Give it a rest, fella.

(2)(1)

Hourly

Why not ask about working hours?

Firms bang on about salaries. Those salary figures are meaningless unless the hours worked are also known.

If an associate is earning £150k per annum, and working 70-80 hours a week (which is not unusual) that only equates to £50 per hour.

If firms advertised the hourly rate rather than annual salary, would-be MC lawyers would be far less impressed.

(4)(0)

A&O fourth seater

A&O not raising from last year’s pay. WTF. 50% retention here we go

(7)(0)

Marc Rotko

#11 Don’t date the paralegal… despite in Suits is allowed

(3)(1)

Comments are closed.

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