As you will know, a vacation scheme is a great way of gaining invaluable work experience at a law firm even if yours are virtual this year. It will help to give you an idea of whether you are suited for a role in the legal sector and to make contacts in the industry.
Here are 10 top tips for making the most out of your virtual vacation scheme.
There might be limited social activities at the start of your vacation scheme due to lockdown being extended. You also won’t have the opportunity to take advantage of small office interactions, such as chatting to people whilst making them a tea. So, it’s important to say yes to any social events going on.
Lots of law firms are offering virtual networking sessions so you still have the opportunity to meet people. If you feel comfortable doing so, small face-to-face meetings can also be a great place to chat to people.
You won’t remember everything you are doing throughout your vacation scheme, so make sure you write lots of notes! Include tasks you have been involved with, things you have found interesting and enjoyable. This will help you to identify skills that you can put on your CV and explain in your training contract interviews as well as help you to understand why you are carrying out specific tasks and what supervisors are expecting. Make sure you understand the tasks you are carrying out, and that you can explain them to others, because there’s a high chance in an interview that you’ll have to explain what you have experience doing and what you have learnt to a partner who’s from a completely different department.
And don’t forget to update your CV after your vacation scheme finishes.
This is your best opportunity to find answers to all of the questions you might have about working in a law firm. Find out what is expected of you and how you can prepare for your future legal career. Make sure you ask questions to as many team members as possible – include associates, partners, trainees etc.
Research is vital to all stages of your law career from preparing for an interview, securing your first law role and you first case. Make sure you thoroughly research the company as a whole and the departments you will be working in. This will help you to feel well informed and prepared. Additionally, stay up to date with news articles and stories relevant to your law firm’s industry. This will help you feel prepared for any interviews you secure after your vacation scheme ends and show you have made the most of your time with the firm.
With work being virtual it might seem harder to impress the team. By being enthusiastic and diligent at all times you will complete the work to the highest of your ability, make the most out of the scheme, gain skills for your CV and future legal career and show off how well you can work. Additionally, always push the boundaries of your knowledge, be confident but accept when you don’t know something, show how great you are at independent research but ask questions when you need to.
It might seem harder to communicate with employees virtually, but if you have completed all of your tasks, make sure you ask where you can be of assistance to your colleagues. No-one wants to be twiddling their thumbs. Similarly, if you are struggling with something, make sure you get clarification of the task so you complete it right and don’t waste time.
You might be walking into your vacation scheme with the impression that you know exactly what a law firm is like and exactly what field of law you want to go in to, but this isn’t always the case. Therefore, keep your options open and you might encounter a discipline you had not considered before.
Connect with everyone you meet on LinkedIn. This gives you a long-term connection where you can stay up-to-date with each other’s legal careers and congratulate achievements.
Make sure you personalise your message when you send a connection request by thanking them for their time and assistance on a task or something relevant you chatted about.
With your virtual vacation scheme, you have limited opportunities to make an impression. Therefore, you need to keep your camera on in all meetings, training sessions and social situations that you are invited to, so you can show how engaged you are. Even though you might only be meeting people virtually, ensure you are following the dress code as you would in the office. Be presentable and professional at all times. No pyjama bottoms!
Not only are you demonstrating your skills and knowledge to future employers, but you’re also vetting potential companies too. So, it’s important that you remember to enjoy yourself during your vacation scheme!
If you are coming to the end of your vacation scheme, and are thinking about the next steps, head to the Jobs in Law job board and learn more about law firms who are hiring.