We often hear students have a difficult time in differentiating firms. For this reason, we recommend a Vacation Scheme as a great way to experience first-hand our cutting-edge work and collaborative culture. We offer the flexibility of three schemes across Winter, Spring and Summer with students joining us in their penultimate or final year of undergraduate study or who have already graduated.
Through a Vacation Scheme, you will gain experience in one of our practice areas, where you will work alongside our lawyers on real deals and cases. Before you join us, we will ask you to choose the areas that most interest you to ensure you get the experience you are looking for. Alongside your legal work, you will attend events and presentations about key elements of our practice while developing the skills you need to be a successful international commercial lawyer. There will also be plenty of time to socialise with our graduate recruitment team, lawyers and partners as well as the other students on your scheme, which will help broaden your knowledge of the firm and build your network.
Students who complete a Vacation Scheme with us will be considered for a Training Contract at the end of their placement. The decision will be based on their performance during the Vacation Scheme, as we do not conduct additional interviews.
We ultimately believe a Vacation Scheme is a two-way process and a chance for you to work out if A&O is the right firm for you. While there will be some assessment during your time on the scheme, our main focus is giving you exposure to our business and providing opportunities for you to learn and develop.
Vacations Schemes for Academic Year 2016-2017:
Winter: 12 – 16 December 2016
Spring: 27 March – 7 April 2017
Summer: 26 June – 7 July 2017
Application Windows for Vacation Schemes:
Winter: 1 – 31 October 2016
Spring/Summer: 1 October – 31 December 2016
Please note that you can only apply to one Vacation Scheme or Training Contract every twelve months.
Vacation Scheme Student Views
Vacation Scheme 2015.
I applied for a Vacation Scheme so as to affirm my desire for a career in international law as opposed to other industries I was considering. I applied to Allen & Overy in particular due to its unrivalled global reach, the opportunities it offers for working abroad and a fantastic personal recommendation from a previous intern.
The Vacation Scheme was brilliantly organised so as to provide the greatest exposure to the firm as a whole, its core business areas and the kind of working life you could expect to lead at Allen & Overy. The Vacation Scheme provided daily morning presentations that introduced the varied nature of Allen & Overy’s international practices whilst also setting genuinely interesting work. Projects I was set across my two seats in Corporate and Capital Markets were challenging but also hugely rewarding in that they were material on final client-facing documents; this gave a brilliant insight into what to expect as a trainee. The team client pitch exercise enabled interns to work together and to get to know the finer details of both Allen & Overy and its clients so as to demonstrate ‘soft skills’, whilst two written assignments represented a more formal and objective means of assessment. In all of the work I did I received constant support and constructive feedback from trainers, partners and Graduate Recruitment alike which added huge value to the scheme.
Allen & Overy is clearly a firm that is defined by the people it employs, and the scheme was organised such that you were fully immersed in the firm’s culture and made to feel welcome in it. This was possible due to the many social and networking events that were a part of the scheme. From rooftop dinners with partners to escape games with fellow interns, Graduate Recruitment did an amazing job of fully integrating us into the firm, despite the brevity of the scheme, through a series of really enjoyable activities. The whole firm was filled with likeminded, approachable and personable individuals and this was reflected among the Vacation Scheme cohort – I finished the scheme having made strong new friendships rather than simply other networking opportunities.
Previous legal work experience I had undertaken was on a far smaller scale and therefore largely incomparable, but when comparing Allen & Overy to other city firms in different industries that I have experienced, Allen & Overy was in another league altogether. The work was complex and employees extremely dedicated yet there was no ‘closed-door’ culture or hint of an atmosphere of internal competition. Instead I was introduced to a firm that though clearly takes its work seriously, does so through a culture of continuous improvement and welcoming inclusion. The three weeks were hugely enjoyable and richly rewarding – I can only hope that any future experience I have with Allen & Overy is considerably longer!
Vacation Scheme 2015.
One of the things that stood out most to me on my Vacation Scheme was how much pro bono work ended up on my desk. To hear about Allen & Overy’s commitment to pro bono work was one thing, but to be immersed in it was something else entirely. I worked on three diverse pro bono matters in my short time at the firm, ranging from answering legal questions for a biodiversity conservation NGO, to researching “freedom of information” precedents for a charity initiating litigation regarding the treatment of immigration detainees. However, my favourite matter was assisting on a guide being put together by the firm along with a law reform and human rights organisation to help MPs and other Parliamentarians understand important legal and constitutional issues. Holding the finished product in my hands on my last day—and spotting a modest contribution I had made just two weeks earlier—was a beautiful and rewarding way to finish the scheme.
The pinnacle of the placement was undoubtedly the client pitch exercise, which we had to present in small groups to the firm’s relationship partner for our designated client as if they were the client selecting their legal team. Having to understand a client’s business inside and out—researching not only their history, but also forecasting their future—was a daunting challenge that emphasized the exceptional commercial sense required of Allen & Overy lawyers. But help was readily given whenever help was needed—although it was not required of them, members of the firm’s business development and legal staff offered meetings to my team to discuss our approach, and trainees kindly attended our rehearsal outside of working hours in order to provide us with their feedback. For me, this exercise was an opportunity to test the culture of the firm, and Allen & Overy exemplified its reputation for a collegial and gladly supportive environment.
Vacation Scheme 2015.
I applied for the winter vacation scheme and was on the programme in December 2015. It was such a valuable two weeks for me as a student coming from a non-law background, because I wanted to get some hands-on experience of what a career in the legal profession would look like, and also the culture of a large firm.
I had done other vacation schemes and open days but the A&O scheme stood out for two reasons: firstly, I learned so much about the industry and secondly, it was so much fun. I sat with a senior associate in Corporate Public M&A, observed his work, sat in on client calls and was able to complete some work which one of the trainees had been focussing on. I actually worked on a deal that I have since read about in the FT, so it was really exciting to know that would happen even at a junior level!
The scheme also includes some skills training and a client pitch exercise which you complete in teams. This was really interesting as it gave me an insight into the profession which I’d never really thought of before.
What surprised me most was the way everyone made time for me – on the pitch exercise I asked for help from at least six people and they were all happy to take the time to explain things to me and offer their support. I had expected people to be too busy for that, but they always took the time, which made such a difference.
Sitting in on a client conference call I was struck by how the A&O lawyers were so professional and efficient. If the client had a question, they would mute the phone, have a quick discussion and then get back on to provide an answer, or offer advice.
The scheme gave me a really good chance to see day-to-day life at the firm, and I especially valued the lunch I had with my trainee buddy; everyone is assigned a buddy and mine was very great. We were very well matched – she didn’t have a law background either – and I could ask her all the questions that I might not want to put to a supervisor, for example why she joined the firm, whether those reasons had been validated by experience, where she wanted to qualify. I learned so much from her.
When it comes to interview, it’s easy to try to fit into a perceived mould but I’d advise candidates to be themselves. The firm’s not looking for clones but for independent thought, different backgrounds and perspectives that will bring something new to what they can offer.
International Vacation Scheme
International Vacation Scheme
As one of the world’s largest law firms, our lawyers are working in multi-jurisdictional teams on a daily basis and we expect our lawyers to work overseas during their career – cultural awareness, teamwork and a global mindset are skills that are vital to your success as a lawyer here.
That’s why we offer our International Vacation Scheme. All those offered a Vacation Scheme in our London office are able to apply to spend an additional week in one of our international offices in July 2017. In 2016, our Vacation students spent time in Dubai, New York, Hong Kong and Amsterdam.