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Trainee blog: how to make the most of the summer scheme

  • 4 mins read

It’s that time of year again – Summer Scheme season. When I did my Vacation Scheme in 2019 I spent time in two different departments, namely Real Estate and Restructuring and Insolvency. I found the week really beneficial for gauging what starting and developing my legal career at Ashfords would be like (let’s just say it was a positive experience and I could not more thrilled to be training with this firm!).

The Vacation Scheme days are not assessed as such, however everyone and anyone you encounter in the firm can give feedback on you. This makes it quite difficult to give any specific tips for the Vacation Scheme. It is more about the impression you leave on the people you encounter at the firm rather than passing any particular tests or tasks. With this in mind, here is my advice on how to make the most of your Vacation Scheme and leave a great impression on your (hopefully) future colleagues.

TIP ONE – RESEARCH

Always do your research, and in as much depth as you can. Ensuring that you have done adequate research will give you a better understanding of the firm and enable you to engage in valuable conversation. Hopefully you will have already collated research for the Vacation Scheme and Training Contract application processes. Information obtained through talking to existing trainees and other fee earners is really useful because this is likely information that cannot be found through a Google search and demonstrates that you have been proactive in your preparation for the Vacation Scheme.

Additionally, if you get informed about which departments you will be spending time in during your Vacation Scheme, it’s a good idea to research their practice areas and what kind of work they typically do. This demonstrates your interest in the firm and shows that you are prepared.

TIP TWO – BE ENTHUSIASTIC

As mentioned above, the Vacation Scheme itself is not formally assessed and as such the firm is looking more at your personal attributes and attitude at this stage. Be enthusiastic about any tasks you are given and any opportunities which present themselves to you throughout the week because it shows your interest in the firm and conveys a positive attitude.

TIP THREE – SPEAK TO PEOPLE OUTSIDE of YOUR IMMEDIATE TEAM

Although you will have been placed in particular teams for your Vacation Scheme, don’t be afraid to speak to other people in the firm outside of your immediate team. This will help you gain a better understanding of the firm and the kind of people who work here (it also gives you more opportunity to impress more people!).

With the latter in mind, it’s a good idea to  make sure you have a clear idea about why you want to embark on your training contract with Ashfords and what your unique selling point is. Both of these give you something to talk about with people you encounter in the firm and demonstrate that you have a genuine reason for wanting a training contract with Ashfords in particular.

Talking to people outside of your immediate team may seem daunting, but the majority of fee earners like talking about their work, so once you break the ice you can have some really valuable conversations.

TIP FOUR – ASK QUESTIONS

And finally, ask questions – even if you think they are silly ones. Asking questions will help you gain a better understanding of how the firm works and also the extent of the tasks you’ve been given. It’s important to get clear on the tasks you’ve been given because this will help to manage expectations (e.g. what it is exactly you are being asked to do and the timescale in which you are being asked to do it).

Don’t be afraid to ask (easier said than done, I know!), although some fee earners may seem a little scary, they’re likely just very busy. Plucking up the courage to ask questions will showcase your initiative and confidence. Questions also demonstrate your interest and that you are digesting information given to you and want to find out more.

No one is expecting you to know how to do the tasks they give to you on your Vacation Scheme, like I said earlier, this week is not about how good your legal knowledge is, but rather about your additional attributes and how you apply them. Nobody is going to judge you for asking questions.

More than anything else, give yourself a pat on the back for getting this far, use the week to find out what it would be like to embark on your legal career with Ashfords and enjoy the experience.

To find out more about trainee opportunities, please visit our careers page. You can also read the the rest of our trainee blog series here.

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