by Stephen Gurman
I’m writing this on yet another rainy afternoon in London and summer seems a long time away, but in just a couple of months exams will be over. So what can you do if you haven’t already got a vacation scheme lined up?
It’s not too late!
Just because the biggest names might have finished their vacation scheme applications, it doesn’t mean there aren’t good opportunities available. There are more than just a few firms that still have their vacation scheme applications window open.
For example, summer schemes at Bevan Brittan, Taylor Vinters and Edwin Coe are still open for applications. For a more comprehensive list see https://www.lawcareers.net/Solicitors/WorkPlacementDeadlines
Outside of private practice
Perhaps private practice is not for you? Good news, there are a couple of schemes being run in the Government Legal Service this summer. HMRC’s summer scheme is currently accepting applications and the Treasury Solicitors Office (TSol) scheme is due to open in late March or early April.
Perhaps there is a legal advice centre local to you, do they need any help over summer? Now’s the time to start getting in touch and finding out what’s local to you. Check out the website for Law Centres http://www.lawcentres.org.uk/
Another avenue to think about is building up your commercial awareness. Who are the clients of the firms you’d like to work with? Perhaps try to gain some experience in one of those industries to develop an understanding of the commercial world.
You might be interested in an area of law where there aren’t many formal schemes being run, or perhaps you’ve been unsuccessful with your applications so far. Don’t give up!
There are hundreds of small firms dotted around the country that you could get in touch with. While you do need to be prepared for plenty of knock backs when you make speculative approaches, you might find a useful few weeks of experience.
If you’re approaching a very small firm do remember that resources (especially time) are limited. Don’t put them off by asking for too much too soon. For example, you might want to ask for a short meeting or a few days of shadowing to find out about a law career and then move on from there, rather than asking for several weeks experience straight away. Remember the networking skills you’ve been developing over your time at university and put them to good use.
While clearly not as useful as a full-on vacation scheme, spending a day or two attending court to follow a trial you’re interested in can help you to gain an understanding of how law is argued and applied. It might even help you to sell your motivation for a career in law to an employer and give you a current legal issue to talk about on an application form or at an interview. Just remember to check when the courts will be taking their summer break.
Why not just relax and enjoy the free time? Being productive over summer will help you when it comes to applying for a job.
Do something. Try to do something interesting, but don’t worry if you have to do something just because it pays the bills. If you need a guide to what might benefit you personally, think about any weaknesses you’ve had when you’ve made applications before. What can you improve at? For example, if you’ve not got any experience leading a team you may want to try and find something you can do, even if just for a short time, that will give you that experience.
Whatever you do end up doing over summer, always have training contract, graduate schemes or pupillage applications in the back of your mind. How does what you are doing over summer help you with applications you might have to make? Think about all the questions you’ve seen on application forms, what competencies are the employers you’d like to work for looking for? Is there a way you can develop these over summer? Once you’ve gone out and done it, make sure that you remember what you’ve done. Keep a journal if you think it might help you when it comes to applying for jobs later.