Vacation Placements are offered by all the larger City firms. These consist of normally two to four weeks of working and tutoring within the firm.
The majority of placements are paid, and you can earn anything from £250 – £400 per week. This gives you a chance to experience different practice areas as well as to get a feel for the firm before applying for the all important training contract (see below).
As well as being of huge advantage for you, firms use these as recruiting tools for their training contracts, and you may be invited for an interview at the end of your time with the firm. For this purpose, if you are lucky enough to be accepted onto a placement scheme, treat the whole experience as a month-long interview – just in case!
Law students are required to apply in their second year, with the deadline normally being the 31st January. However, this can vary with each firm. You will then be called for interview and vacation placements take place in the summer after your second year. Non-law students work to the same deadlines, except in must be during the final year of study. Look out for a list of deadlines, which will posted up here soon.
Many of the City firms also offer Winter Vacation Placements, which are open to third year law students or non-law students. These are shorter in duration, due to the shorter holiday time allowed, but should be treated with the same seriousness as the summer schemes – any type of work experience will be seen as advantageous on a training contract application.
A training contract is the final part of your legal training. After completing the Legal Practice Course, a firm will take you on for two years in order to provide on the job practical experience.
A training contract will normally consist of four six-month ‘seats’, which rotate around different departments within the firm. A few firms (Norton Rose, Mills & Reeve etc) offer an alternative of six four-month ‘seats’, enabling you to experience a wider range of practice areas. Within larger firms, there may also be the opportunity to use one of these seats as an international or client secondment. Either way, during these two years you experience a lot of different areas of your chosen firm.
The bigger City firms recruit for these two years in advance. Therefore, if you are in your second year of a law degree you will need to apply in the summer. Those applications that are accepted in Summer 2009 will then be starting the training contract in 2011. For those of you are from a non-law background, applications will be accepted from the end of your final year. Once again, a list of deadlines for the major firms will be put up nearer the time of application.