What Is A Vacation Scheme?

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.

What Happens On A Vacation Scheme?

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.

When Should I Apply For A Vacation Scheme?

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.

Where Should I Apply For A Vacation Scheme?

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:

  • What salary does the firm offer (at trainee level, at NQ level, etc)?
  • Have I heard good things about the culture of the firm (is it a friendly, welcoming place to work)?
  • What kind of practice areas do they specialise in (if you have particularly niche interests, for example sports law or intellectual property, this is particularly important)?
  • Where is the firm located (both in terms of a vacation scheme and more long-term in regard to your career, how far are you willing to travel or relocate)?

How Can I Secure A Vacation Scheme?

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:

  • Research each firm thoroughly and include detailed, specific references to their work in your application.
  • Ensure that you highlight your interpersonal skills at interview – coming across as likeable and approachable is key.
  • Develop and demonstrate your commercial awareness throughout the application process.
  • Ensure that your quality of writing (including spelling and grammar) is as polished as possible.

Law Firm Vacation Scheme Application Deadlines

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.

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