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Vacation Schemes – Free Guide to Law Vacation Schemes

If your aim is to be a solicitor, you will need to carry out relevant work experience in the form of a vacation scheme. This not only gives an unparalleled insight into the working life of a solicitor. It is also a key component of your CV as an aspiring solicitor.

We’ve got all the latest vacation scheme deadlines listed in our deadlines section.

See Vacation Scheme Deadlines

Want to know what vacation schemes are like? Read our Pinsent Masons Case Study and Simmons & Simmons Case Study.


What is a Law Vacation Scheme?

A vacation scheme is a way of gaining invaluable work experience at a law firm.  Schemes commonly last between one and four weeks and provide a unique and rewarding opportunity to:

Want to know more about vacation schemes? Find out more from Raj Karia, Head of Corporate, M&A, Securities, MEA at Norton Rose Fulbright in the video below.

Can a Law Vacation Scheme Help Me to Secure a Training Contract?

In short, yes.

Many law firms now use vacation schemes as an extended opportunity to assess a candidate’s suitability for a training contract. Candidates are frequently invited to attend a training contract interview at the end of the scheme as standard.  As such, vacation schemes form a central part of the training contract application process.

To get a flavour of how law vacation schemes can lead to training contract opportunities down the line, you should take a look at Pia’s Training Contract Application Case Study.

Please note that completing a vacation scheme does not always guarantee a training contract. Similarly, it is still possible to obtain a training contract without having completed a vacation scheme in most cases. Current statistics show that between 30% and 70% of candidates who complete a vacation scheme go on to secure a training contract.  

What Do Law Vacation Schemes Involve?

1) Work Based Tasks

During law vacation schemes you will be expected to perform tasks similar to that of a trainee solicitor. You will be supervised, supported and ultimately assessed by one of the firm’s partners or associate solicitors, assisting on a variety of deals and/or cases. You will also have an opportunity to work alongside and observe current trainees, providing a genuine insight into trainee solicitor life.  

Day-to-day vacation scheme tasks may include:

2) Group Exercises

Some law firms like to set group tasks, projects and exercises to simulate practice as a solicitor, for example a mock negotiation. Such exercises are designed to give you a flavour of what life as a solicitor will entail. Group tasks also enable the law firm to assess your suitability for a training contract  based on:

Core skills include:

Visit our What Makes a Good Lawyer? page to find out more about the core skills law firms will be looking for you to demonstrate during law vacation schemes. Ensure that you demonstrate these core skills to the best of your ability to give yourself the best opportunity to shine.

3) Socialising

Law firms tend to embrace socialising and networking amongst fellow vacation scheme students and the law firm’s employees by organising social events. You will be encouraged to attend such events, which may include lunches, dinners and drinks out. Use these events to connect with as many people as possible, helping to get your name out and broaden your network.

See Vacation Scheme Deadlines

What are the Benefits of Completing a Law Vacation Scheme?

Vacation schemes should therefore be approached with the utmost diligence, enthusiasm and professionalism. In addition to providing you with an insight into trainee life and whether a career in law is right for you, it will give the law firm the opportunity to gain an insight into you and your suitability for a future position at their law firm.

Will I Be Paid For a Law Vacation Scheme?

Payment in some form is likely. How much depends on the individual law firm and may vary from simply covering travel expenses to a weekly salary of up to £500. Take a look at our Vacation Scheme Deadlines Calendar for an indication of possible vacation scheme remuneration.

When Should I Apply For Law Vacation Schemes?

Timings for vacation scheme applications will very much depend on your degree choice but are usually accepted in your penultimate year of undergraduate study and beyond.

Application deadlines will vary depending on whether you are applying for a spring, summer or winter vacation schemes:

See Vacation Scheme Deadlines

Step by Step Guide to Securing a Law Vacation Scheme

Step 1 – Choosing a Law Firm 

Before making your vacation scheme applications it is important to think carefully about which law firms to apply to. There are a number of factors you may wish to consider when deciding where to apply for vacation schemes, including:

After you have weighed up the various factors, you will be well placed to compile a list of target law firms. You can then start drilling down into the detail, by researching:

By conducting thorough research, you can tailor your applications accordingly and ensure you are applying to law firms that are right for you. Note: law firms are not interested in generic vacation scheme applications – a commitment to and an understanding of their particular firm and working is a must. 

Step 2 –  Research Vacation Scheme Opportunities Available

Visit our Vacation Scheme Deadline Calendar to find out more about vacation schemes currently available, with direct links to application forms and deadline information.

Step 3 – Submit Vacation Scheme Applications

The vacation scheme application process is very similar to the process involved in applying for training contracts. So visit our Training Contract Application page to find out more about how the overall application process works.

Step 4 – Attend Vacation Scheme Interviews 

The vacation scheme interview process is very similar to the process involved in interviewing for training contracts. So visit our Training Contract Interview page to find out more about how the overall interview process works. You can also read our blog on Vacation Scheme Interviews.

Step 5 – In-House Assessments 

As part of the vacation scheme application process you may be asked to attend an assessment day where you will be expected to complete a whole number of tasks including:

Step 6 – Being Made a Vacation Scheme Offer

If, following the intensive interviews and any assessment days you have sufficiently impressed, you may be offered a vacation scheme. Many law firms will call you in person to deliver the good news whilst others will inform you via email. Then it’s down to you as to whether you accept the offer!

Top Tips for Vacation Schemes 

To stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons you should ensure that you:

What Happens if I am Unable to Secure a Vacation Scheme?

If you do not manage to secure a vacation placement, there are plenty of other work experience opportunities available. Options include:

See Vacation Scheme Deadlines
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