If you are currently studying for your undergraduate degree and thinking to pursue a career in law, a vacation scheme is a great way to learn more about life as a solicitor but be warned these vacation schemes do not come easy. So what can you do to secure a vacation scheme? Today we will share with you our 9 step guide that will put you well on the way to a vacation scheme.
1. Get the basics right
First and foremost you need to ensure you are familiar with basic facts about these schemes, which includes application deadlines, number of placements when these schemes are run and more importantly the application criteria. We recommend you use our friends LawCareers.net to help you get organized with these basic fundamentals. You will need to be well organized to be able to navigate through this process.
2. Start early
To improve your chances of securing a placement we highly recommend you start early and attend open days and other workshop opportunities. Attending these events you will gain valuable insight into these law firms, network with key people and crucially you are likely to get the opportunity to meet trainees who have been through this very process themselves. Our friends at LegalCheek run regular workshops for free at various law firms and we highly recommend you use them.
3. Use university law fairs
Most of us probably have been there before, having a lazy or hangover day at University but making the effort to attend law fairs at your University should really be at the top of your priorities especially if you are considering a career in law. Similar to open days and workshops, these law fairs present an excellent opportunity to network with recruiters and solicitors while really laying that initial groundwork in preparation for vacation scheme applications. It is vital that you come prepared with questions to get the most out of it. If you are well prepared and you may ask a really good memorable question that will stay with the recruiter and make you stand out in future applications.
4. Network effectively
When attending law fairs and other networking opportunities make sure you use these opportunities effectively and ask the relevant questions that will help you with your vacation scheme applications. Do not be afraid to ask direct questions such as 'why you have joined this firm'. These people will share this information with you as this is all part of attending such events. If you network right, you will gain plenty of tips and information from these events to help you answer key questions such as why corporate law or even why this law firm.
5. Research the law firm
The next step is to research which law firms you will be applying to. Preparation for these applications is key and BrightNetwork has put up a very useful video from city solicitors about how to research for your application. Researching a law firm well will help you decide which firms you want to apply to but also make it easier for you to relate back to the firm when answering questions in the application. If you are unsure what you need to research about the firm this article on how to research a law firm will be of great help.
6. Less is more
Do not think the more vacation schemes you apply the more likely you are to get one. Instead, as part of your research focus on which firms suit your profile and interests best then prioritize them in the right order. A well researched and high-quality application should be the focus as opposed to a few average quality applications.
7. Show enthusiasm for the firm
You have done some networking, researched the law firms you wish to apply to but next vital part in securing that all important vacation scheme is the actual application. Our top tip for standing out in this process is by really showing on the application your extensive knowledge you have about the firm and be prepared to put a compelling case forward why you have applied to this firm. One way to approach is to look at the reasons you want to join this firm over other firms you have considered. Do not be afraid to name drop and link your answer to a conversation you had with a trainee or solicitor at a law fair, which perhaps has sparked your interest in the firm. The key to a successful application is to demonstrate that your career goals fit well with the firm.
8. Submit a faultless application
You will be surprised how many people still fail because the application is riddled with spelling errors or another one that comes up often is spelling the law firm's name incorrectly, which is absolutely fatal. Checking over your applications before submitting is an absolute must. Ideally, you should get the application checked by someone who has not seen your application before as they are much more likely to pick up on errors. Top tip, join your University law society and see if you can find a fellow student who has previously successfully been through this process and get them to check your application if possible.
9. Nail the interview
All the research and effort you have put in the application can be redundant if you do not nail the interview. Similar to applications, the outcome of the interview will heavily depend on the preparation you have done prior to the interview. A good starting point is to look at likely vacation scheme questions that may come up.
It is not denied that the process of obtaining a vacation scheme is hard work and often very draining. However, if executed right this will give you your best shot yet to go on and secure a training contract on the back of a vacation scheme.
Have we missed anything? Please feel free to comment or share your experiences below.
Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs