Gathering information from firm guides, attending firm open days and reading the The Lawyer Portal’s free guides can help form an opinion as to the structure and vision of law firms.
Certain vac schemes will require more prerequisites than others, such as the Watson Glaser test for Clifford Chance. It will be beneficial to learn how you can best prepare for these tests and interviews by reading about the firm’s corporate culture.
Information you have gathered can be separated into a few categories depending on your interests. If your interest is to be at the top of your craft, you may categorise information according to Magic and Silver Circle firms, with a keen emphasis on the cases and pro bono work these firms have been involved in.
Another way to categorise your information is according to two or three areas of law you may be interested in.
Not all of us can say with certainty that litigation is our cup of tea and rightly so. Choosing two to three fields of law allows you to read up and compare the merits of each. There is no harm in applying for vac schemes for different areas of law. In fact, it may be advisable to avoid the jumping on the bandwagon effect.
Lastly, try to read up on commercial affairs or news in general. Build up on your general knowledge for commercial awareness is fast becoming a common strand of emphasis across firms. Having a strong grasp of the world’s happenings will show in interviews.
It also helps apply your legal analytical skills when you read about world affairs. After all, law does not exist in a vacuum.
After gathering and reading information, prioritise how you will go about applying.
Again, there is no hard and fast rule, but having a list of firms in ranking order of how much you’d like to work for them helps to make the entire process all the smoother. Therefore, it is key to keep a look out for a firm that attracts you with its culture or work ethic.
Prioritising applications also means allocating time to properly fill out application forms and open-ended questions.
Take some time out to think through the questions carefully and come up with an answer that best indicates your legal analytical skills. Rushing through a list of applications will not help in this regard.
Be aware of the fact that there are a lot of people vying for the same vac scheme – you do have to put yourself out there on top of filling in the application forms.
This includes showing a keen awareness and interacting with the firms on open days. While it helps them identify you as a future prospective employee, it helps you identify which firm suits your preference most.
Joining runs organised by lawyers such as the London Legal Run 2017 may help widen your network and awareness of the legal fraternity.
Oh, and a big tip: read, read, read. Reading is vital for a law student, but it’s good to read beyond current affairs and law books; it helps you develop your analytical skills useful in interviews and answering those dreaded open-ended questions on the application form.
Now that you have a list of firms and have done your research, execution is key. Planning for 30 minutes to one hour each week, reading up on and applying for firms, is best advised. A well-thought plan can only be as good as its execution.
Hope this article has been a useful guide in planning your vac scheme applications. Good luck and all the best!
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