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Vacation Schemes: FAQs

If you’re looking for the answer to a vacation scheme question then look no further! Here, you can find out all there is to know about vacation schemes, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, pop us an email with your question and we’ll add it to the page. For a more detailed overview of vacation schemes, take a look at our Free Guide to Law Vacation Schemes.


What are law vacation schemes?

This is an opportunity of usually one or two weeks to spend time in a law firm. However, they are more than just work experience, and are often considered as your first step into a firm. It’s also a great opportunity to widen your interests and experience; you will get involved in a range of activities which will give you an insight into life as a trainee.

Why are law vacation schemes so difficult to get?

Competition is extremely high as working in the legal profession is such an exciting career choice. Firms have a limited number of trainees they can take on every year, often dictated by business needs. Since every vacation schemer is a potential trainee, the firm takes the decision about who to accept very seriously.

When should I apply for them?

This will vary depending on the firm, but for summer vacation schemes applications usually open October/November and close January/February

Is there a difference between winter and summer law vacation schemes besides the date?

Winter vacation schemes are usually aimed at final year undergraduates and career changers. Law firms often have two intakes of trainees; autumn and spring. Since law firms recruit two years in advance, the winter vacation scheme gives those looking to join the earlier intake the opportunity to experience the firm.

How do I decide which firms to apply for?

This requires a lot of research! There are a number of factors to consider, so you need to think about what are the most important things you are looking for in a firm. A good starting point is to consider size, sectors and practice areas, what they offer their trainees in terms of pro bono and secondment opportunities, and the firm’s reputation.

We also have a What Type of Law Firm Should I Apply to? Quiz!

What do firms look for on vacation scheme applications?

Firms want to know why you are specifically interested in them; what makes them different to other law firms? So make sure you research the firm, its USP (Unique Selling Point) and its clients thoroughly.

Don’t make your application stand out for the wrong reasons! Inaccurate punctuation and spelling is just not acceptable. Some recruiters have said that recurring grammatical and/or spelling mistakes can be the basis of a rejection.

What can I expect to be doing on my vacation scheme?

A range of tasks; this will obviously vary from firm to firm. For the most part, you will be in a department with trainees, associates and even partners where you will get the opportunity to get involved with some of the work a trainee does. This could involve anything from drafting documents to doing presentations and participating in group activities.

How can I get the most out of my vacation scheme?

Be perceptive, so consider whether this is an environment you would be happy to come to work every day. Remember that the experience is as much about finding out about the firm as it is them finding out about you, so ask plenty of questions, get involved and be enthusiastic! It is also important to make the right impression, so dress appropriately. If in doubt, err on the side of caution.

If I don’t get a vacation scheme, does this mean I won’t get a training contract?

No, not at all. Although many firms do recruit from the pool of vacation schemers, there are plenty of firms who simply add them to the other pool of applicants.

However, having completed a vacation scheme will most definitely highlight your commitment to the profession.

Therefore, vacation schemes are definitely worth applying for! Consider a vacation scheme as an opportunity for you to establish whether a firm is right for you.

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