Due to the pandemic, we ran our 2020 vacation scheme virtually. Although students couldn’t physically be in the office, they were able to meet lots of people at Freshfields and learn about different areas of the firm. Highlights included joining team calls, team exercises such as a pitch presentation, and virtual socials with our trainee ambassadors.
We are hopeful that our 2021 vacation scheme can be held in our new London office but, if not, we know we can run them virtually, building on our format from 2020.
Associate Alex Collins explains how the firm’s vacation scheme kick-started his legal career.
Doing something other than law at university doesn’t rule you out.
I studied French at Bristol University. Everyone I spoke to encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do and the door to law would always be open.
I did a vacation scheme at the end of my third year.
I had taken a year out so I then had another year at university. I sat in project finance, which is something I knew absolutely nothing about as a second-year French undergraduate. The trainees and associates (who you spend most of your time with on a vacation scheme) were very supportive, so there was a good atmosphere and it was a great place to learn.
During the vacation scheme, we all had to research a topic to present to a partner.
For me, that was the most satisfying part of the experience (and still as daunting now as it was then!). There are some other interesting exercises, such as group negotiating, and you experience some of the day-to-day work by getting involved in whatever your supervisor is doing.
If you strive and work hard then the sky is the limit.Elizabeth Sangobiyi Trainee
There are plenty of social events outside of work.
During the three weeks of the scheme, current trainees organise activities. We had a very eclectic mix: a graffiti workshop, climbing the O2 dome, going to a circus show and a dinner at a restaurant in Mayfair. Lots of the people I did the vacation scheme with became trainees and are now associates here, so it’s a good way of meeting people before you start.
Between accepting my training contract offer and joining the firm, I did my final year of university.
After graduation I did the GDL and LPC, which the firm paid for. Freshfields also contributed to living costs to enable me to focus on studying. I really made the most of a couple of extra years of being a student and did some travelling in the summers in between.
As a trainee, there can be a lot of demands on your time, but you’re always learning.
I spent six months in corporate before moving into leveraged finance. My first three months were full on, as I joined at the start of an M&A transaction. There were lots of long days and the occasional late night, but it was clearly a good experience for me because transactional work is what I enjoyed and have ended up doing.
Towards the end of my training contract, I spent three months at a large private equity client and then six months in the corporate team in Hong Kong. Seeing similar work from different perspectives like that really helps round you out as a lawyer.
It was a great feeling to qualify – I used my one-month qualifying leave to take a road trip through New Zealand.
I qualified into the private equity team, which is what I wanted after spending time there as a trainee and going on secondment to one of the team’s main clients.
When the people you work with are so nice, it makes the long days so much better.
You also get pretty well looked after with lots of social events. Highlights for me have included the corporate-wide summer party and the leveraged finance ski trip. There are plenty of perks.