A vacation scheme is essentially a formal internship within the legal industry. More specifically, they are often offered by law firms looking to recruit their next cohort of trainee lawyers via training contracts (an offer of two years of training at the firm, satisfying the SQE route’s new QWE requirements). The idea is that those who perform well on a vacation scheme will be offered a training contract after exit interviews.
On a vacation scheme, the majority of your time is split between group workshop sessions (where members of staff at the firm present on topics such as practice area introductions or the firm’s commitment to diversity) and independent work in a practice area (where you’ll be supervised by a practicing lawyer).
Some firms will also run a group task alongside these previous activities, whereby participants are expected to work together to produce a piece of work (usually a presentation) which will be delivered at the end of the scheme.
Vacation schemes at larger firms also often involve a range of social activities, including group socials via dinners, bars, gaming experiences and more.
If you want to apply for law firm vacation schemes, you have the option to participate in a spring vacation scheme, a summer vacation scheme or a winter vacation scheme. It is important to submit vacation scheme applications early to avoid missing legal vacation scheme deadlines.
Applications for spring, summer and winter law firm vacation schemes open in October. However, be aware that the deadlines for each type of application will vary and will be different for each law firm.
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding which firms to apply for in the context of a vacation scheme, though many of these considerations are shared more generally with which law firm you’d like to work at altogether. Here are a few examples you might consider:
The application deadline for spring and summer vacation schemes is January the following year. For winter vacation schemes, the deadline is November of the same year, meaning you have a very short window to apply for vacation schemes that run in the winter.
You can find available vacation schemes, and vacation scheme deadlines in the table below. Please note, while these vacation scheme deadlines are maintained to the best of our ability, we always recommend checking deadline dates on the relevant law firm website.
In terms of pay, vacation schemes can range anywhere from simply covering basic travel expenses (perhaps at a local high street solicitors or small regional law firm) to a salary of around £500 per week (perhaps at a Magic Circle or elite US law firm).
These schemes usually take place in the office of the law firm hosting them. During Covid, they were often moved online, but most are now based in-person. Some firms will offer vacation scheme participants the opportunity to work flexibly (e.g. three days in the office, two days from home), but most participants will choose to attend in-person for the entire scheme in order to maximise their experience (particularly in networking opportunities).
Vacation schemes typically last anywhere from one to three weeks, largely based on the time of year. Winter vacation schemes (taking place over the Christmas holidays) tend to be the shortest, while summer vacation schemes are usually the longest. Some firms will also run ‘spring’ or ‘Easter’ vacation schemes.
Vacation schemes are notoriously competitive, particularly at top-ranked firms in the City. For this reason, many applicants will apply to a number of different firms in the hopes of securing a vacation scheme (ideally while still maintaining a standard of quality within each application). Here are some other points to consider:
Loading More Content