My experience on a Summer Vacation Scheme

My experience on a Summer Vacation Scheme
2020-02-25

I completed a vacation scheme in the Summer of 2019 with Womble Bond Dickinson LLP, a transatlantic commercial law firm who have offices throughout America and England and have Scottish offices in Aberdeen and Edinburgh. I completed my vacation scheme in the Edinburgh office which was very pretty because it overlooked the castle! At the end of my vacation scheme I accepted their offer of a Traineeship commencing in 2021.

I found out about WBD through a talk that the recruiter for WBD gave to the University of Aberdeen Law Society. I then went to a Commercial Awareness workshop that she held with the Careers and Employability Service the next week, and I got such a good and genuine feeling from the firm during those events, that I chose to apply for the vacation scheme and 2021 traineeship.

During the week, I mainly gained experience in commercial real estate and dispute resolution. I was given various tasks such as researching different areas of law and completing procedural real estate tasks. These were done under the supervision of various individuals in the firm who involved me in their work and willingly answered every single one of my million questions!

Overall it was a fantastic week and I learned a lot about law in practice and gained an insight into the culture of the firm – everyone in the office was lovely and seemed genuinely happy there.

Law FairThe Law Fair, which runs every September, is a fantastic place to network with different law firms, ask them about the opportunities they can offer you and get a feel for what working for them might be like.  

The application process for WBD was different to any I had experienced before: they use a new platform of testing which is driven by AI called Pymetrics, and this was super interesting because it had a lot of different and fun exercises to do which you would not normally expect in an application process. It calculated various skills I had from my responses, and this went alongside my paper application for review. I felt that, this way, the firm were not only seeing my qualifications and work experience but my personality too.

In my vacation scheme, I think I was surprised at just how much responsibility was given to me without feeling that I was constantly being assessed or monitored. Everyone in the office was so helpful and welcoming, and this stood out for me a lot because it showed the firm’s culture well.

In terms of how to find work experience like mine, I would definitely recommend going to any networking events you can, especially the Law Fair, and any seminars or workshops a firm might offer. Even if it is not the area of law you would like to go into, it is good experience networking with potential employers, and helps your confidence too.

"When it comes to applying for vacation schemes or traineeships, use the Careers and Employability Service as much as you can...They help so much with general applications and do practice interviews which are very helpful"

When it comes to applying for vacation schemes or traineeships, use the Careers and Employability Service as much as you can. Each firm has a different application process, and it can be quite daunting if you are not sure how to answer questions about things such as “commercial awareness” and “client centrality”. They help so much with general applications and do practice interviews which are very helpful and helps you gain confidence in answering law interview questions. I found that many firms required an essay as part of their application process, so it was good to have a fresh pair of eyes to look over it.

In preparation for the application I would recommend looking in depth into the firm that you are applying for, for example looking at the news around sectors they advise in and their Corporate Social Responsibility. I also think that it is better to choose a few firms and concentrate on producing high value applications as opposed to applying for dozens with generic answers to questions.

I know it sounds very cliché but be confident in yourself! It is difficult as law is extremely competitive, and it is sometimes easy to just copy what other people are doing. I think that everyone has different skills which they have gained from diverse experiences, and that is important because it makes the application stand out more.

Published by Students, University of Aberdeen

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