When considering where to apply for vacation schemes and training contracts, it was instantly clear to me that I wanted to join a firm with a small trainee intake. I think this allows for easier integration and a more personable experience, as well as enabling you to work more closely with senior, highly experienced lawyers, and to have a more meaningful and exciting role in the deals that you work on. After meeting the people at the firm and getting a sense of the culture during my vacation scheme and at other recruitment events, it was an easy choice for me to accept a training contract with S&C.
The nature of the work at S&C is very international; in the year that I have been at the firm, I have worked on only a handful of matters primarily involving English law and/or English companies. The deal teams at S&C are generally much smaller in comparison to magic circle firms, and as a result you are given a lot of responsibility in terms of progressing deals and contributing substantively to the work products. In my first seat, I was asked to produce the first drafts of various documents, and I had a large amount of direct client contact. One of my first deals involved me taking primary responsibility for coordinating the work streams in four different countries, which involved a lot of contact with local counsels.
The opportunity to spend a year studying on the LPC with my trainee cohort meant that we had already formed a bond before heading into the training contract. The small intake also allows you to form good relationships with others at the firm, as people are generally eager to meet the new starters, and the small number of faces and names to remember means that in many cases people knew who I was before I had even introduced myself. The atmosphere is very friendly and collaborative amongst the juniors; there is no sense of competition as there may be at firms with larger intakes and lower retention rates. The senior lawyers and partners at the firm are also very approachable.
The Vacation Scheme
The vacation scheme at S&C was a genuinely enjoyable experience, and provided a very helpful insight into the culture of the firm. The people were very welcoming, with many lawyers of all levels of seniority attending the scheduled social events and making an effort to speak to the vacation scheme participants. I was given work by my trainee mentor and associates, including research tasks and a due diligence exercise. In my experience, however, the vacation scheme felt to be much more about getting to know the firm and deciding whether I thought it would be a good fit for me, as well as the other way round, as opposed to an assessment of my abilities.
The firm runs regular training sessions throughout the training contract, which provide a great overview of certain topics, as well as an introduction and guidance as to tasks that you can expect to receive as a trainee. Your in-seat experiences, however, are key to your professional development as most of the learning is done “on the job”. Associates and partners will, when possible, take the time to explain deals and concepts to you to ensure that you understand the deal as a whole, even if you might only be involved in one or two specific work streams. S&C also has brilliant support staff and resources to help you throughout your training, as well as following qualification.