If you want to become a solicitor, doing a vacation scheme is a great way to show recruiters that you’re committed to a legal career. It will also give you a taste of what working at a law firm might be like before you start applying for training contracts.

What Is a 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 give you an opportunity to:

  • Experience first-hand what life as a trainee solicitor is like
  • Explore the firm’s key areas of legal practice and client base
  • Understand the type of tasks you will be expected to perform as a trainee solicitor
  • Understand the culture and work ethic of a law firm
  • Establish whether you are suited to a career in law

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.

What Do Law Vacation Schemes Involve?

Work-Based TasksDuring your vacation scheme, you will be expected to perform tasks that a trainee solicitor would. 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.

Day-to-day vacation scheme tasks may include:

  • Performing legal research
  • Drafting, amending and reviewing legal documents
  • Attending and taking minutes of meetings
  • Attending court
  • Proofreading
  • Performing administrative tasks such as filing, document management and photocopying  
  1. Group Exercises 

Some law firms like to set group tasks, projects and exercises to simulate a scenario a solicitor would face, for example, a mock negotiation. They’re great chances to demonstrate the following to your law firm:

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 show these core skills to the best of your ability to give yourself the best opportunity to shine. 

  1. Socialising 

Law firms tend to embrace socialising and networking amongst fellow vacation scheme students and the law firm’s employees by organising social events. These could include lunches, dinners and drinks out. Use these events to connect with as many people as possible and broaden your network.


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Law Vacation Scheme Benefits

  • You’ll get a genuine insight into life as a trainee solicitor at a particular law firm
  • You can broaden your network and make vital links and contacts with experienced lawyers
  • You will realise whether a career in law is right for you
  • You’ll get constructive feedback on your work, allowing you to develop your core skills
  • Your CV will look great when you start your training contract applications
  • At the end of a vacation scheme, you may be considered for a training contract.


Your salary will depend on the law firm and the location of your vacation scheme. It could range from merely covering travel expenses to a weekly salary of up to £500. Take a look at our deadlines calendar for specific law firm salaries.

When to Apply

You should apply in the penultimate year of your undergraduate degree.  

  • Application deadlines for spring/summer vacation schemes tend to be around January time
  • Application deadlines for winter vacation schemes tend to be around October/November time

Other Options

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

  • Sending an ad hoc CV and covering letter to smaller/high street law firms that do not run vacation schemes
  • Applying for mini pupillages or other work experience in a court setting
  • Exploring summer schemes and legal internships run by the larger commercial organisations such as investment and commercial banks, media and telecoms companies and accountancy firms 
  • Sending an ad hoc CV and covering letter to smaller commercial organisations that do not run structured schemes

Looking for Opportunities?

Check out our deadline calendar to see which firms are hiring

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