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Vac Schemes 2012: The early bird catches the firm!

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    Hey guys. I will be joining this thread, doing my research/doing absolutely nothing at home at the moment so I'll answer those specific questions later.

    Bit of a silly question though...does getting an open day somewhere suggest that your CV/competency question answers were of a good enough standard when it comes to VS apps? Or just that you weren't awful enough to be rejected? I got open days at CMS, S+S and A&O. All top firms obviously but I wouldn't want to convince myself I stood a massive shot and waste loads of time targeting only them and similar firms.
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    (Original post by Sam o0o)
    Hey guys. I will be joining this thread, doing my research/doing absolutely nothing at home at the moment so I'll answer those specific questions later.

    Bit of a silly question though...does getting an open day somewhere suggest that your CV/competency question answers were of a good enough standard when it comes to VS apps? Or just that you weren't awful enough to be rejected? I got open days at CMS, S+S and A&O. All top firms obviously but I wouldn't want to convince myself I stood a massive shot and waste loads of time targeting only them and similar firms.
    I think this is definitely a very good sign - I know that at least A&O uses the same application process for their open days as for their vac schemes, so well done! This. of course, does not guarantee a VS but, having gone to the firms' open days, you will be able to make your applications stand out. I only ever went to one open day and subsequently also got a VS at that firm when I applied.

    It will also be great for when you apply to other City firms too - it will show you are proactive and that you've had an interest in City law from the start and that is a very good thing, indeed.
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    (Original post by eve_22)
    I think this is definitely a very good sign - I know that at least A&O uses the same application process for their open days as for their vac schemes, so well done! This. of course, does not guarantee a VS but, having gone to the firms' open days, you will be able to make your applications stand out. I only ever went to one open day and subsequently also got a VS at that firm when I applied.

    It will also be great for when you apply to other City firms too - it will show you are proactive and that you've had an interest in City law from the start and that is a very good thing, indeed.
    Thanks Eve And I might have to apologise in advance, I'm sure that will be the first of quite a few questions to the more experienced of you on here! Hope everything is going well with your TC apps!
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    (Original post by eve_22)
    I think this is definitely a very good sign - I know that at least A&O uses the same application process for their open days as for their vac schemes, so well done! This. of course, does not guarantee a VS but, having gone to the firms' open days, you will be able to make your applications stand out. I only ever went to one open day and subsequently also got a VS at that firm when I applied.

    It will also be great for when you apply to other City firms too - it will show you are proactive and that you've had an interest in City law from the start and that is a very good thing, indeed.
    If you have done open days at firms that were marketed as open days for first years, is that good enough? Do I still have to get onto open days with the same firm when I am in my second year?

    So far I have been on five open days, a mixture of which have been for first years and non first years.
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    (Original post by marrythenight)
    If you have done open days at firms that were marketed as open days for first years, is that good enough? Do I still have to get onto open days with the same firm when I am in my second year?

    So far I have been on five open days, a mixture of which have been for first years and non first years.
    Any open day, whether for first years or not, is a good addition to your CV, shows interest in the profession and allows you to get an insight to the firm. That's really all you want out of them.
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    (Original post by eve_22)
    Any open day, whether for first years or not, is a good addition to your CV, shows interest in the profession and allows you to get an insight to the firm. That's really all you want out of them.
    Thanks! Actually, just after you posted this I got accepted to a Simmons and Simmons Open Day next week, it looks very interesting and slightly longer than the other ones I have done.

    So far I have been on full day open days to DLA Piper, Baker & McKenzie, Simmons & Simmons and Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge. I've also done a City law two day event for ethnic minority students, the Bright Commercial Law Network day in September in London and I'm applying to Olswang for their Commercial Law Insight week.

    I've just finished first year, is this enough for now or should I continue getting onto more in second year? These are the firms that I really like, so I don't want to keep going on open days for the sake of them as it might look like I have just fired off applications all over the place. Plus, merely getting onto the OPEN DAYS has been quite a struggle!
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    (Original post by hmaus)
    It sounds like you have already been to loads! IMO you already have plenty to prove your interest so I don't think you need to keep going on more just for the sake of it. I don't think further open days will really add anything more to your applications now, so if you want to go on more then just go out of interest if you really like a certain firm and want to get a better look at it.
    Thanks for your reply Can I use these open days and events as 'work experience' evidence? The open days provide you with good skills in my opinion as you get to practice negotiations and commercial awareness skills. It's just, my de facto work experience of working in firms for a week (you know, working for a week at a high street solicitors) is almost none existent. I had a job for a year on my gap year working for a business, but not law related.

    Can I make up for that by using the open days as evidence of work experience?
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    (Original post by hmaus)
    Yeah I think it would be fine. You can use the open days as evidence of your interest and awareness of what goes on at law firms to help you get on vac schemes, and then when you're applying for TCs you have your vac schemes as your legal work exp. Your gap year work is good as well as you were working for a longer period. Personally I find it a bit shocking when people's only work experience consists of odd open days here and there and they have never actually held down any kind of job!
    Oh so you would encourage me to disclose that I worked on my year out? It was just a job in a high street clothes store but it did get me interested in business. The structure of the company was that it was private equity backed by Bridgepoint Capital which continued to inject cash into the company particularly after the economic downturn.

    Sure, it was just a job to fill in the time and obviously get a bit of cash, but it could be used to relate to commercial awareness. I'm happy I did it, I think it's good to have held down a job at some point!
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    (Original post by marrythenight)
    Oh so you would encourage me to disclose that I worked on my year out? It was just a job in a high street clothes store but it did get me interested in business. The structure of the company was that it was private equity backed by Bridgepoint Capital which continued to inject cash into the company particularly after the economic downturn.

    Sure, it was just a job to fill in the time and obviously get a bit of cash, but it could be used to relate to commercial awareness. I'm happy I did it, I think it's good to have held down a job at some point!
    I'd say definitely mention your job. I went to an open day at CC and an Easter 2 day thing at Linklaters and they both emphasised how much they appreciate evidence of having a real job on the application form. It is especially good that you can link it to some commercial awareness and in their words it is much more impressive than loads of random work experience at high street law firms and open days as it shows you are capable of fitting in in a work place, can turn up on time etc etc which is more important than people seem to think.
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    Hi, I thought I'd join in with this now results are out and I can viably make some vac scheme apps in Autumn.

    1) Where are you thinking of applying?
    Probably all the MC firms, particularly Linklaters as I have had a fair bit of contact with that firm and am quite taken with them, also CC after a very good open day.
    Perhaps a few silver circle firms, especially ones that have offices in Leeds.
    All the top firms in Leeds...DLA Piper, Addleshaw Goddard, Pinsent Masons, Eversheds, Walker Morris
    My plan is (hopefully) to get vac schemes in both London and Leeds then decide whether I want to work in London or return to the motherland or train in London then move to Leeds.

    2) How are you going about preparing for the process?
    I went on Linklaters' Pathfinder scheme in Easter which was really good.
    Also open days at CC, Hogan Lovells and DLA Piper (Leeds)...I was too disorganised to apply for any others.
    This summer I'm going to start working on my commercial awareness and get into good habits such as reading the FT etc.

    And I thought I'd share a few tips I have gotten so far...
    Linklaters - apparently each section of the application form is marked out of 5 (or some number) so in theory it is all equally weighted and the people with the best scores in total get interviewed first then if that bunch aren't good enough it moves down the list. As with all firms they really want you to highlight why you want to work for their particular firm. Their grad recruitment team are really friendly and apparently if you say something interesting to them at a law fair they do write your name down for future reference when assessing applications. They also said they don't operate rolling recruitment so you can apply as close to the deadline as you want.

    Clifford Chance - They said you need to practice verbal reasoning tests because if you don't pass their online one then you're application doesn't even get read. Apparently the pass mark is not that high but still. They said they only want 2.1s and didn't seem to stress academics too much. They really want you to be 'well-rounded' and have a section on their application that asks what you've been up to in the last 3 years (apparently climbing mount kilamajaro is no longer impressive as everyone seems to do it) and you also get asked what your greatest achievement is ("backpacking around Europe is a holiday not an achievement")

    Those are the only two firms that have gone beyond the basics and given a really good insight into their process.
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    (Original post by peachmelba)

    The firms you are applying for are very different. I'd question with such a variety whether you have done enough research on what you want/where you'd fit.

    It's quite common for firms to ask where else you have applied. So, for Freshfields it would be fine to say another MC, a SC and a top end US firm, because you want to see how the cultures compare. If you answer honestly, you run the risk of it looking like an ill-considered scatter-gun approach.
    How are the firms very different? I find it difficult to tell the difference between them, if you mean to say which practice areas they have - a lot of them are very similar. Do the firms truly expect you to know which practice area you want when you're only a second year law student?

    Can you give me advice on how to not be seen as having a scattergun approach?
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    (Original post by marrythenight)
    How are the firms very different? I find it difficult to tell the difference between them, if you mean to say which practice areas they have - a lot of them are very similar. Do the firms truly expect you to know which practice area you want when you're only a second year law student?

    Can you give me advice on how to not be seen as having a scattergun approach?

    If you can't tell the difference between FBD and DLA, you haven't done enough research yet! Look at Chambers Student Guide, Roll on Friday, Legal week, Vault firm profiles as a starting point.

    It's not about knowing which practice area you'd like to qualify into. One big difference is the type of clients/transactions they advise on.

    To avoid a scatter gun approach, you need to decide which type of firm you want to work for/have a realistic chance at, and then apply to say FBD and the firms that it regularly competes against.

    If you don't do that, you will find it much harder to answer the "why commercial law"/"why this firm" questions on the application forms/at interview.

    Some people do apply to 25+ firms in seemingly random order. While there is an element of luck in all this, I think an unfocused approach contributes to some people's TC hunt.
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    Hey guys,

    I'm going to be a second year non-law student in September. I'm hoping to get at least one vac scheme this year. I currently have a few ideas about where I would like to apply, but I'm still doing A LOT of research. Feel free to contact me if anyone is in the same position. xx
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    (Original post by peachmelba)
    If you can't tell the difference between FBD and DLA, you haven't done enough research yet! Look at Chambers Student Guide, Roll on Friday, Legal week, Vault firm profiles as a starting point.

    It's not about knowing which practice area you'd like to qualify into. One big difference is the type of clients/transactions they advise on.

    To avoid a scatter gun approach, you need to decide which type of firm you want to work for/have a realistic chance at, and then apply to say FBD and the firms that it regularly competes against.

    If you don't do that, you will find it much harder to answer the "why commercial law"/"why this firm" questions on the application forms/at interview.

    Some people do apply to 25+ firms in seemingly random order. While there is an element of luck in all this, I think an unfocused approach contributes to some people's TC hunt.
    Thank you for the tips I was feeling a bit over whelmed about where to start all the research. x
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    (Original post by marrythenight)
    Well there's not need to be snooty. I only just finished first year for goodness sake, I'm not a second year that is fast approaching TC deadlines. Know your audience, please. I asked your advice because I was confident you could give it, but instead you took the opportunity to put me down and act like a categoric authority on the matter.

    I know a differences between DLA Piper and FBD or Baker & McKenzie in terms of the work they do - e.g. DLA Piper only 40% of their work is cross border, whereas at Bakers it's 80%.
    I'm sorry if you found that "snooty". I gave you some suggestions on how to further your research - every candidate has to do that for themselves. TSR can be a great support but it's not a crutch.

    If you don't like my advice, feel free to ignore it. And to be honest I don't have time to keep track of precisely which stage everyone who posts on here is at.
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    (Original post by marrythenight)
    Well there's not need to be snooty. I only just finished first year for goodness sake, I'm not a second year that is fast approaching TC deadlines. Know your audience, please. I asked your advice because I was confident you could give it, but instead you took the opportunity to put me down and act like a categoric authority on the matter.

    I know a differences between DLA Piper and FBD or Baker & McKenzie in terms of the work they do - e.g. DLA Piper only 40% of their work is cross border, whereas at Bakers it's 80%.
    I don't see how it was "snooty" to tell you that you hadn't done enough research. In her original post, peachmelba had given you advice on how to avoid the scattergun approach and also where to look for the information about firms but you seem to have ignored most of it and instead concentrated on the one sentence which you claim has "put you down". If anything, I think you are a little overly sensitive; something that you will need to control as a City solicitor

    Just my two pence, really.
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    (Original post by eve_22)
    I don't see how it was "snooty" to tell you that you hadn't done enough research. In her original post, peachmelba had given you advice on how to avoid the scattergun approach and also where to look for the information about firms but you seem to have ignored most of it and instead concentrated on the one sentence which you claim has "put you down". If anything, I think you are a little overly sensitive; something that you will need to control as a City solicitor

    Just my two pence, really.
    I'm gonna have to side with the OP on this one. For the majority of first year students their summer has only really just begun. I think its very unrealistic for anyone to expect someone who is fresh out of first year to have detailed knowledge on the differences and similarities between certain firms at this point in time.
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    (Original post by hmaus)
    Agree with this. Going into this process you will need to develop a thicker skin or else you will have an absolutely awful time when you start getting PFOs and when partners keep challenging everything you say in interviews! If you take it all personally you will end up curled in a ball wailing by next September (I felt like doing this myself at times!)

    You seem quite on the ball for a first year and as you say you do have plenty of time to research firms and learn where everything fits in the legal market so I don't think it is a huge cause for concern that you are a bit unsure at the moment but it's definitely worth having a regular look at The Lawyer etc to improve your understanding.

    Anyway, with regard to the Scattergun approach, I don't think is necessarily bad to apply to a variety of types of firm. At the vac scheme stage I actually think it's quite a good idea to try and get some variety so you can see what actually suits you. I applied for TCs at all sorts of firms from MC to regional... some might call it scattergun, I call it being "open minded" :cool: The important thing is that if you are applying to a range of firms that don't naturally fit together, you have to be aware of the differences and know why you have chosen them.

    And finally, for what it's worth I don't think Peach is snooty. She is quite direct but she gives lots of good advice and is generally a good sort.

    Ok, thank you for the advice. I probably shouldn't have been personal, but I have researched quite a few firms in depth and I didn't like to be told I hadn't done my research properly because I'm tentatively thinking about applying to certain firms.

    As The_Black_Shinobi has said above me, it's unrealistic to expect people at the end of their first year to be as up to speed as yourself or peachmelba, but that's not to say we don't appreciate you coming in here to help as we certainly do! I'd just warn that people at the end of their first year may seem a bit 'dotty' and 'uninformed' compared to someone at the end of second year that has done vast amounts of research over the year and has attended interviews, assessment days etc.
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    (Original post by trollman)
    Hogan Lovells open day and vac scheme sorted :awesome:

    And an open day at simmons and simmons on thursday.

    Better get researching!
    Are you first or second year? If you just finished first year, you have a vac scheme sorted already? :eek: Congratulations, you're the first person in this thread to have one! Do you want me to add your name to the participants list in the OP?
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    (Original post by trollman)
    Just finished my first year! Thank you It's because I applied to a a campus ambassador for lovells at my uni. Had to do an app form and go to assessment day but got it. Really pleased that at least I have one vac scheme and a bit of cash to go with it. I just hope I can get more!

    Yeah go for it!
    Congratulations that is fantastic. I'll add you.

    See you on Thursday
Updated: November 30, 2012
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