I spent the week participating in Legal Cheeks Virtual Vacation Scheme alongside 3000 other aspiring Lawyers in the UK and worldwide and as many of these schemes are going on this summer, in both law and other industries, I thought I would share my experience.
The scheme was run on a platform called Hopin. I’ve used this platform before for a couple of virtual Legal Cheek events whilst I was off work due to COVID-19 and waiting to get a work laptop to do my actual day job. I personally find the platform really accessible and easy to navigate, it is also one of the more reliable of the many video conferencing tools I have used during the lockdown. The stage area is where talks take place, the networking area is for one on one chats with people at random for around 3 minutes in duration and the expo area has a series of booths where you can live chat either with video or just sit in the comments.
On the first day of the scheme we had an introduction, followed by a session titled “From Lehman to Covid” I found this interesting, and helpful to set the scene for the commercial environment we are currently in this was followed by a case study. We were given one case study each day between Monday and Thursday, and were sent the model answers at the end of the scheme. I plan to spend some time going through these and compare them to my own so I really get the most out of the scheme. We then had a session surrounding the relationship between in house and private practice, this was interesting to me as I have definitely considered going in house so found more insight into this helpful. Day one ended with a welcome drinks social in the expo section. I really enjoyed being able to chat with some of my peers, getting to know them and their career aspirations.
Day two started with “Life as a Debt Finance Laywer”. I was surprised by my ability to keep up and the insight into being a debt finance lawyer has definitely reassured me about my chances of surviving if I get thrown into a finance seat at any point during my training contract. The afternoon session was entitled “Meet the legal technologists”, I found myself inspired by Dana Denis Smith’s talk advising us of the three C’s: cultivate curiosity, creativity and common sense. It was also interesting to find out that legal technology is an understaffed area (Not often you hear that).
Day 3 started with a yoga session. I really enjoyed this and liked that I could both modify out the standing poses and challenge myself in the planks. I found it made me more relaxed and more focused throughout the day than usual so maybe morning yoga is something I’ll get into! The second session was called “Life as a Litigator”. I really enjoyed this session as I definitely want some litigation in my career, although I really want a practice area that gives me a balance of both litigation and advisory work.
Day 4 started with “Hot Practice areas of the 2020s” with a focus on environmental projects, the work in emerging markets done by Laura Kiwelu is one of the reasons I’ve spent the last year toying with the idea of working with an international firm that does family law Pro Bono work. As aside from getting to live in Africa or any other country for a period of time being incredible I really liked the political considerations in the projects she has worked on. But practice areas are only part of a decision to train somewhere or not so we shall see where I end up! The second session was an employability expo. I attended the workshops on video interviews and commercial awareness as they are both weaknesses of mine. I find video interviews so hard, it doesn’t help that the microphone quality on my laptop is pretty dreadful but I also struggle with time limits, and looking at the camera and not at the screen. Both things I can work on. Commercial awareness is hard for me because yes I may read the news but it doesn’t tend to stick in my head. I used to love reading The Economist on the way to my old job, when I had no one to talk to on the way in and internet connection. I’m contemplating starting a folder or word document for commercial awareness things. I think I’ll struggle syncing it all together as I have an apple phone but a windows laptop but some commercial awareness stuff to look back over is better than none.
The final day of the scheme started with part two of “Hot Practice Areas of the 2020’s” focusing on counter-cyclical practice areas, including restructuring and insolvency and employment. I definitely fell in love with employment law at the end of this, specifically acting for the employer. I started reading about it towards the end of 2019 and found it interesting then, I also think the type of work will suit me. It’ll definitely be an optional module for when I hopefully start my LPC in January. So alongside family that’s two set in stone! The second session was on “Legal Aid and Pro Bono in practice”. This was an incredibly inspiring session as someone who at one point only wanted to do legal aid law. Now I either want to initially train at a firm that does a balance or a commercial firm with exciting and rewarding pro bono projects that are in areas of interest to me. The scheme ended with a DJ and drinks session (virtually of course). I decided to pop into the ULaw student ambassador tent for a bit to gain more application/interview advice.
Overall I really enjoyed the scheme and got a lot out of it. I joined many WhatsApp groups throughout the week and gained more LinkedIn connections. For anyone participating in a virtual internship or vacation scheme this summer my advice is to throw yourself into it. Take notes, ask questions, connect with the people you virtually meet.