Vacation schemes: a seemingly distant future Watch

kt21
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Most certainly not the first person to spew their grievances about this topic on the net, I write to add another to the pile.

Mitigating circumstances, yes (A level and 2nd year uni). Got ABB and low 2.1s in first and second year in humanities at Warwick.

Outside of studies, I feel as though I have a decent amount of experience, the most prominent being a senior leadership position at my uni newspaper and a summer internship in an unrelated function at a big four bank.

In terms of efforts to learn more about corporate law, i attended 9 open days, alongside a couple of networking events; successfully got onto a competitive mentoring scheme to improve my strategy to get into law (hoping for this to work); and contributed to some pro bono work by completing research for some cases.

I hate the idea of listing and trying to quantify my professional, academic and extra-curricular experiences, but from meeting the competition out there and seeing vast swathes of first-class degree holders securing vacation schemes and training contracts, it feels like there isn't a place for me in a city law firm. I feel like I'll probably need to take on a different career, and give it a few years before making an application that is successful, but this will mean that I may not be as invested in what I do in the mean time.

If you were in my position, and had an interest in getting into the legal sector by obtaining a training contract, most likely through a vacation scheme, would you:

- retake the year and hope to do better, taking 9k out of my pocket;
- try even harder in the final year and take a punt (both 2nd and 3rd years are valued 50/50);
- start a career somewhere elsewhere and wait a few years; or
- something else.

I'm very interested to hear what path you guys would take.
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by kt21)
Most certainly not the first person to spew their grievances about this topic on the net, I write to add another to the pile.

Mitigating circumstances, yes (A level and 2nd year uni). Got ABB and low 2.1s in first and second year in humanities at Warwick.

Outside of studies, I feel as though I have a decent amount of experience, the most prominent being a senior leadership position at my uni newspaper and a summer internship in an unrelated function at a big four bank.

In terms of efforts to learn more about corporate law, i attended 9 open days, alongside a couple of networking events; successfully got onto a competitive mentoring scheme to improve my strategy to get into law (hoping for this to work); and contributed to some pro bono work by completing research for some cases.

I hate the idea of listing and trying to quantify my professional, academic and extra-curricular experiences, but from meeting the competition out there and seeing vast swathes of first-class degree holders securing vacation schemes and training contracts, it feels like there isn't a place for me in a city law firm. I feel like I'll probably need to take on a different career, and give it a few years before making an application that is successful, but this will mean that I may not be as invested in what I do in the mean time.

If you were in my position, and had an interest in getting into the legal sector by obtaining a training contract, most likely through a vacation scheme, would you:

- retake the year and hope to do better, taking 9k out of my pocket;
- try even harder in the final year and take a punt (both 2nd and 3rd years are valued 50/50);
- start a career somewhere elsewhere and wait a few years; or
- something else.

I'm very interested to hear what path you guys would take.
I would try to do the best I could in year 3. Apply to vacation schemes anyway, because it's good practice (and what have you got to lose?). And maybe keep your options open for something else in the meantime... Civil service perhaps?
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JohanGRK
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Have you even applied to any vac schemes or training contracts?
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kt21
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Yeah, applied to over 10 in my second year. Unfortunately got rejected by all - only got a video interview for one.
(Original post by JohanGRK)
Have you even applied to any vac schemes or training contracts?
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kt21
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Civil service certainly sounds interesting - will definitely apply. Also considered compliance, which I think would tie in well with law.

Thanks for your suggestion!
(Original post by LpoolLawStudent)
I would try to do the best I could in year 3. Apply to vacation schemes anyway, because it's good practice (and what have you got to lose?). And maybe keep your options open for something else in the meantime... Civil service perhaps?
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by kt21)
Yeah, applied to over 10 in my second year. Unfortunately got rejected by all - only got a video interview for one.
Why did you not get past the VI?

I'd recommend another go - most people dont get TCs on their first try, and it's entirely possible that the problems with your application can be fixed

Do also try applying to a wider range of firms - the low 2.1 may be turning some off. The ABB isn't great but it's not an instant rejection (for those that don't have minimum A level requirements) either.

Your extracurriculars and work experience are fine
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kt21
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I think it was probably down to a lack of practice and inexperience with the weirdness of talking to a camera. I passed the VI for the bank, for instance.

The unfortunate problem with applications is that while they're competitive as it is, your chances of moving to the next stage become even harder if you are unable to demonstrate genuine interest in working for the firm. Considering this, I feel like I could only stretch applications to firms so far before it becomes pointless.

This is when I begin to think that making an investment to retake my year, with a mitigating circumstance to explain why, would be the best option to get that vacation scheme within the shortest period of time.
(Original post by JohanGRK)
Why did you not get past the VI?

I'd recommend another go - most people dont get TCs on their first try, and it's entirely possible that the problems with your application can be fixed

Do also try applying to a wider range of firms - the low 2.1 may be turning some off. The ABB isn't great but it's not an instant rejection (for those that don't have minimum A level requirements) either.

Your extracurriculars and work experience are fine
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by kt21)
I think it was probably down to a lack of practice and inexperience with the weirdness of talking to a camera. I passed the VI for the bank, for instance.

The unfortunate problem with applications is that while they're competitive as it is, your chances of moving to the next stage become even harder if you are unable to demonstrate genuine interest in working for the firm. Considering this, I feel like I could only stretch applications to firms so far before it becomes pointless.

This is when I begin to think that making an investment to retake my year, with a mitigating circumstance to explain why, would be the best option to get that vacation scheme within the shortest period of time.
What firms are you wanting to apply to? And why is it that you have a genuine interest in those firms, as opposed to others?
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kt21
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Quite keen on Reed Smith, Baker McKenzie, Clyde and Co, Simmons and Simmons and Stephenson Harwood.

There's a whole host of reasons behind that, but it revolves around factors like the practice areas they offer, which align with interests that I've developed from previous experiences; their culture, which I've been able to truly embrace from having spoken to so many people at their open days and other networking events, like dinners; and the training programmes they offer, which I believe are not constricted and allow for certain oportunities (particular secondments and modules in business management, commercial awareness and languages) that are not offered, or are not offered in the same quality, at other firms.
(Original post by LpoolLawStudent)
What firms are you wanting to apply to? And why is it that you have a genuine interest in those firms, as opposed to others?
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by kt21)
Quite keen on Reed Smith, Baker McKenzie, Clyde and Co, Simmons and Simmons and Stephenson Harwood.

There's a whole host of reasons behind that, but it revolves around factors like the practice areas they offer, which align with interests that I've developed from previous experiences; their culture, which I've been able to truly embrace from having spoken to so many people at their open days and other networking events, like dinners; and the training programmes they offer, which I believe are not constricted and allow for certain oportunities (particular secondments and modules in business management, commercial awareness and languages) that are not offered, or are not offered in the same quality, at other firms.
Well I wish you the best of luck in landing one of them. At a certain point, it becomes a bit of a numbers game. But you sound like you have genuine interests in these firms, so if you can reference your skills and abilities well, I would think you at least stand a chance.
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by kt21)
I think it was probably down to a lack of practice and inexperience with the weirdness of talking to a camera. I passed the VI for the bank, for instance.

The unfortunate problem with applications is that while they're competitive as it is, your chances of moving to the next stage become even harder if you are unable to demonstrate genuine interest in working for the firm. Considering this, I feel like I could only stretch applications to firms so far before it becomes pointless.

This is when I begin to think that making an investment to retake my year, with a mitigating circumstance to explain why, would be the best option to get that vacation scheme within the shortest period of time.
You're still going to have to put down the 2.1s and explain why you're repeating a year. You're pretty much out of contention for the v elite firms that want high 2.1s and Firsts, and I'm not sure that the firms you mentioned will see you grades as a deal breaker. Might actually be best if you move on, get good third year grades, and get some proper work experience asap. Were there any other reasons for you wanting to repeat a year?

There are many firms that are similar to the ones you mentioned. It may be that you are not applying to enough places.
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kt21
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Yeah there were some mitigating circumstances that developed throughout the year. I've submitted a thoroughly backed mitigating circumstances form and am awaiting a response.

What do mean by "proper work experience"?
(Original post by JohanGRK)
You're still going to have to put down the 2.1s and explain why you're repeating a year. You're pretty much out of contention for the v elite firms that want high 2.1s and Firsts, and I'm not sure that the firms you mentioned will see you grades as a deal breaker. Might actually be best if you move on, get good third year grades, and get some proper work experience asap. Were there any other reasons for you wanting to repeat a year?

There are many firms that are similar to the ones you mentioned. It may be that you are not applying to enough places.
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by kt21)
What do mean by "proper work experience"?
Apologies (this is what happens when I try to post a full response on my phone) - I was referring to full-time 'professional' work experience - so, paralegalling, working in another business services function in a law firm, that sort of thing.
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kt21
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Haha no worries, thanks for the response!

Do you think work experience that is not in a law firm could work e.g. compliance at a bank, civil service, etc?
(Original post by JohanGRK)
Apologies (this is what happens when I try to post a full response on my phone) - I was referring to full-time 'professional' work experience - so, paralegalling, working in another business services function in a law firm, that sort of thing.
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by kt21)
Haha no worries, thanks for the response!

Do you think work experience that is not in a law firm could work e.g. compliance at a bank, civil service, etc?
Sure, but, as you're a non-law student, you may need to more work in proving that you are indeed interested in a law career.

If you're looking for paralegal positions, do also search for 'legal analyst' positions - they're paralegal positions by another name
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kt21
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Ah brilliant - thank you once again for helping me set out my path better!

All the best
(Original post by JohanGRK)
Sure, but, as you're a non-law student, you may need to more work in proving that you are indeed interested in a law career.

If you're looking for paralegal positions, do also search for 'legal analyst' positions - they're paralegal positions by another name
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