Tag: vacation scheme

How to Deal with Rejection

If you’ve sent off a bunch of applications over the last couple of months, give yourself a pat on the back. If you’re about to start applying (we’re looking at you, barristers), good luck!

As you wait to hear the outcome of any application, it’s common to feel scared that lots of rejections are coming your way.

This blog’s all about dealing with rejection and turning it into something positive, so read on.

To put it bluntly….

Law firms receive anything from a few hundred to a few thousand applications each year for training contracts and vacation schemes.  

Some firms will see you as a good match for them, whereas others won’t, which means that you’ll most likely have a few ‘nos’ coming your way. And that’s why you need to get comfortable with the idea of rejection.  

Here are some tips to help you cope with vacation scheme rejection and pick yourself back up again. 

It’s not personal 

As mentioned, all law firms (big and small) get inundated with applications. Whether you’re rejected at application or interview stage, the chances are it’s not because you did anything wrong.  

What’s more likely is that there was someone more suited to the role than you. This could be because they had some previous legal experience, or just because they performed particularly well at an assessment centre. 

Sometimes it’s just sheer luck, and had you applied in a different year you might have been successful.  

The moral of the story is that there are so many different reasons why you might have been rejected, lots of which you can’t control. So don’t take it personally.  

Ask for feedback 

This is hands down the best way to make your application form or interview technique better going forward. 

It’s rare for law firms to give feedback on application forms (because of the volume, as mentioned above), but most will give you feedback after an interview or assessment centre.  

Graduate recruitment teams will usually ask everyone involved in the process, from the partner who interviewed you, to the trainee who showed you around at lunchtime, for their comments and observations. 

Study the feedback; is there something you can work on? If you have feedback from multiple firms, try and find a common theme. Take time to reflect and work on any pain points. Then use everything you’ve learnt in your next interview. 

Bear in mind that current trainees at top law firms only got to where they are now through feedback they got after failed applications and interviews. Don’t forget that. 

Take a breather 

If the timescale allows, take a break. Instead of jumping straight back into applications whilst you’re still feeling angry, upset or dejected, take some time out. 

It’s OK to feel sorry for yourself but don’t let it go on for too long!  

Give yourself a day’s break. Put away your laptop and do something nice, like go for a coffee, a walk, or meet up with a friend.  

Start afresh the next day; you’ll find that you approach the task in hand with a much more positive mindset. 

Lean on friends and family 

Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Speak to friends and family about how you’re feeling. It’s not silly to feel upset about rejection; after all, this is your future career! And a problem shared is a problem halved as they say.  

Go one step further and get your network involved in the process – ask them to look over your applications or ask them to do interview practice with you. It’ll make the experience less lonely, and you might get some useful feedback along the way.  


Are there any other practical steps you could take to bolster your application? 

If you’ve been applying for vacation schemes, training contracts or pupillages for a while but haven’t been successful yet, it might be worth looking at becoming a paralegal, or taking up another administrative role at a law firm. 

Working at a law firm in any capacity can be a great way to drum up your experience, not to mention your confidence. You’ll get valuable work experience whilst learning about how a law firm works.  

Another plus point is that you can get to know the culture of a firm. 

If getting another job isn’t an option for you, you could look into volunteering at your local legal centre or Citizens Advice Bureau. 

Work experience, paid or voluntary, looks good on your CV, and demonstrates your commitment to the legal industry. 


Do you have any tips you’d like to share for dealing with rejection? Get in touch. 

Applications, applications, applications

It’s that time again. 

If you’re applying for winter, spring or summer vacation schemes this year, now’s the time to start. Most firms have opened their application windows and are eagerly awaiting your applications. 

Here at Future Lawyers, we definitely recommend applying for vacation schemes; they’re the best way to find out about a law firm, and for them to find out about you. 

You’ll still be under pressure to perform; but you’ll also have the opportunity to prove yourself over the course of one or two weeks, rather than in a stress-inducing hour-long interview. 

Most vacation scheme applications close at the end of January (though deadlines vary so do check). In any case, we recommend starting your research now, especially if you’re planning on doing a few.  

This is where The Legal 500 Future Lawyers vacation scheme deadline table comes in.  

In one handy table, you can see all firms’ deadlines in one place, helping you to keep on top of your research, and making sure you never miss a crucial closing date. 

Have a look for yourself.

Happy applying! 

What makes a good vacation scheme application?

Vacation schemes are a great way to get first-hand experience of working in a law firm. Even better, if you perform well and impress your colleagues, you’ve got a very good chance of being offered a training contract at the end.  

Competition for vacation scheme places can be fierce, but with some thorough planning and research here’s how you can make your application stand out from the crowd. 

  1. Do your research 

It sounds obvious, but before you start your application you need to research the firm. This means finding out in which areas of law the firm practises, what the culture is like and how the firm markets itself. If you want to go the extra mile, you could also try finding out what the firm’s future plans are and how it intends to make them happen. Having this knowledge will help shape your answers to the questions on the application form and will help you to tailor your responses accordingly. 

2. Answer the question 

Before you start writing, read through the entire application form; this will help focus your mind on the questions to hand, as well as give you an idea of exactly how much work there is to be done! Read and re-read each individual question and think carefully about what the firm is asking of you, rather than what you would like the firm to be asking you! Precision and attention to detail are important attributes in a lawyer and so a recruiter will want to see that you have answered the question at hand. 

3. Numbers game 

Sending out hundreds of applications with the same answers copied and pasted into each form isn’t advisable. But, at the same time, applying for vacation schemes and training contracts is still a bit of a numbers game. There’s a balance to be struck between spending enough time tailoring your application to each firm and applying to enough firms to give yourself a good chance of succeeding. Think carefully about where this balance lies for you.  

4. Clear, concise and correct

Write your responses to the application form questions in simple language. At larger firms in particular, recruiters will read through hundreds, if not thousands, of applications and so you will do well to get your message across clearly. It hopefully goes without saying that there shouldn’t be any spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes in your application form. It’s a good idea to write your answers in Word first to make sure they’re correct. 

5. Check, check and check again 

Proofread your work. Once you’ve finished a draft, wait for a couple of hours, or even overnight, before you look at it again. A fresh pair of eyes is more likely to pick up on mistakes. If you prefer reading over things in hard copy, print off your application form to give yourself the best chance of spotting errors. Ask a friend or a family member to read over your work too. 

6. Timing is everything

Send in your application ahead of time. Some firms review on a rolling basis and applying earlier will mean that the recruiter will have more time to read through your application properly. What’s more, an application that has been written and researched in plenty of time is more likely to read better than one which has been thrown together at the last minute!

7. Tailor made

Be sure to tailor your application to the firm you’re applying. You can do this by mentioning something specific to the firm or linking your in each of your answers. Each application is different and each firm will be trying to elicit slightly different information from you. A recruiter will be able to spot an application form which has been copied and pasted several times over. 

Applying for vacation schemes can be a lengthy process, but by investing enough time and energy into your applications, you will reap the benefits in the long run. Good luck and don’t give up! 

What is a vacation scheme?

A vacation scheme is a period of one or two weeks spent at a law firm as part of the training contract application process.  

A vacation scheme is essentially work experience, the difference being that you will be assessed throughout for your suitability to get a training contract at that firm. It’s also likely that you’ll have an interview at the end of the scheme. 

During the scheme you’ll be given real work to do, and you should tackle these tasks as if you were a trainee. Don’t worry if you don’t have any legal knowledge yet; the firm will not expect you to be an expert on the law! Instead, they will be looking to see what your thought process was and, most important of all, that you approached the task with enthusiasm. 

It is essential that you are on your best behaviour throughout the vacation scheme. This applies just as much to your time at your desk as during a social event with your fellow vac schemers. Your prospective future colleagues and supervisors will be watching you! 

Having said that, you need to be yourself too. Of course the firm wants to see if you’ll be a good lawyer, but they also want to see that you’re someone that other people will want to share an office with. If you come across as arrogant, laid back or even too intense, you might give off the wrong impression. Be friendly and engaging, ask questions and take an interest in what’s going on around you. 

Remember that doing a vacation scheme is a two-way process. It’s as much a chance for you to find out if you like the firm as it is for them to work out if you’ll be a good fit. 

Vacation schemes are an integral part of the training contract application process and are very important. Many firms now recruit solely from their vacation scheme so this could be your one and only chance to show them what you can do. 

If you’re lucky enough to nab a spot on a vacation scheme, work hard and take every opportunity to find out as much as you can about the firm. 

Our vacation scheme deadline table has all the dates you need. Start researching now! 

Passports at the ready: Dechert international secondments

An overseas secondment is an indisputable bonus of training at an international law firm.  Following a stint abroad, trainees return armed with a newfound confidence and a network of colleagues from around the globe. We spoke with Dechert trainees about the perks of undertaking an international seat.

Dechert’s six-seat training contract ensures that all trainees can expect at least one secondment in one of the firm’s international offices. Recent secondment opportunities have included a financial services seat in Dublin or Singapore, a competition seat in Brussels or a litigation-focused client secondment in Toulouse.

Dublin trainee Rachael McKendry is currently on secondment to Dechert’s London office, whilst London trainee Catherine Adams is three months into a seat in the Dublin office.

Dechert’s global footprint was a huge factor in Rachael’s decision to apply: ‘I wanted the opportunity to work with colleagues in different offices and work on cross-border matters’. Now well into the second year of her training contract, Rachael has frequently found herself working on matters with an international element. ‘On any given day I could be working with colleagues from, say, New York, Boston, Hong Kong or London. It makes the work so varied and interesting’.

The opportunity to move abroad was also an enticement for Catherine. ‘I’m quite familiar with the whole idea of living in a different country. I had spent time abroad during my degree and again after graduating from university, and I was keen for that to continue.’ And her secondment to Dublin has not disappointed, ‘So far, Ireland has felt very homely!’

Despite the geographical proximity of the Irish capital and London, the prospect of moving to an unfamiliar city and starting a new job all at the same time can still be a daunting one. To make the transition as smooth as possible, Dechert has all bases covered. Rachael received details and pictures of her London accommodation in advance, was picked up from the airport and even had a gym membership set up for her by the firm. A few days before starting work, she was also invited to attend a training session and social event at her new workplace. ‘Meeting everyone in a social setting, from partners to trainee supervisors to the trainees themselves, was brilliant. It put me at ease and I felt a lot more confident going in on the Monday already knowing what to expect’.

The Dublin office is an integral part of Dechert’s international network. The bulk of the work undertaken is finance-focused, making a secondment to the Irish office a great option for trainees looking to qualify in this area. This was a particularly attractive proposition for Catherine, who had already completed (and enjoyed!) a financial services seat in London and was keen to build on the knowledge she had acquired. So far, she has found the work to be similar, albeit with a slightly different angle, due in part to its focus on Irish funds.

One of the attractions of a secondment in Dechert’s London office for Rachael was the range of practice areas on offer, in particular litigation, where she is currently sitting. The interplay between the different departments was also intriguing. ‘I already knew the firm was very collaborative from dealing with other offices internationally but it’s so interesting to see how the different practice areas in the London office collaborate and work with each other’. And although the London office is much larger than its Irish counterpart, Rachael certainly doesn’t feel as though she’s been given any less responsibility. ‘As a secondee I feel like I’m on the same level as all the other trainees, which is great because it gives me the sense of being able to contribute just as much’.

Similarly, in Dublin, trainees are afforded high levels of responsibility from the get-go thanks to the close-knit teams. ‘Here I’m given an overview of the matter, what my tasks will be and I’m trusted to go away and complete them’, says Catherine. The people aren’t bad either: ‘everyone’s been really friendly and welcoming even though I’m only here for a short time. It’s been easy to get to know everyone quite quickly – I’ll be sorry to leave!’

If the professional experience isn’t enough of an enticement, the opportunity to get to know a new city might be. Rachael is making the most of living in London’s vibrant Smithfield area and finds plenty of time to explore the capital at weekends. ‘I’ve had a lot of visitors dying to come over; it’s amazing how quickly Christmas rushes in when all your weekends are full’! Catherine agrees: ‘my house is like a hotel at the moment’!

So has moving abroad for four months brought with it any challenges? ‘Nothing has caught me out’, says Catherine, ‘the only thing is that I’ve always lived with someone so living on my own was a bit of an adjustment’. Rachael has found the transition equally problem-free. ‘I didn’t know too many people in London but that really hasn’t been an issue at all here. I’ve made so many friends, be they trainees or other members of the team’.

Both are agreed that trainees should jump at the chance of undertaking an international secondment if they are offered the opportunity. To sum up: ‘I’ll take away a better sense of Dechert’, says Rachael. ‘Although it’s never lost on me that it’s an international firm, having now experienced more than one office, I’ve seen that culture of collaboration at work. I’ve seen how people can transition between different offices seamlessly because it is so international’.

Dechert’s London office recruits ten trainees a year exclusively through its vacation schemes. Applications for the spring and summer vacation schemes are open now and close on 31 January 2020. Click here to apply.