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Applying for a Vacation Scheme or Training Contract

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

We caught up with Eleanor Parsons, a third year Law and Criminology Integrated LLB student at Cardiff University, who will start her training contract with Burges Salmon in 2021, having done the vacation scheme beforehand. She provides us with incredible insight into the firm, the application process and her path into law. 

What made you want to pursue a career as a lawyer?

I have always been fascinated with people, negotiating and the big decisions and rules that influence our lives. I knew I wanted a career where I could be challenged daily and see the outcome of my efforts and training. Having tried a few different roles in the retail, marketing and legal sectors during my education, it confirmed to me that Law was where my passion lay. Taking part in the Pathways to Law scheme in Exeter helped me to begin turning my aspirations into reality.

What attracted you to Burges Salmon and the vacation scheme?

From the start, when coming across Burges Salmon at events and fairs, I felt that I could see myself within the firm, and they treated me with a level of respect and support that I felt was essential for the firm I chose for my career. With Burges Salmon, I knew I could experience top quality work without moving to London, which was something I was never interested in. As I am still open to where my specialism may be in the future, the six-seat Training Contract really appealed to me, and suited my future plans.

With regards to the Vacation Scheme, I liked the opportunity to take part in 'live' work rather than case studies, as I felt this would give me a clearer insight into the realities of the firm. The clear effort the firm put in to the whole fortnight, with well-planned socials and fantastic communication throughout set them apart from other firms.

What was the application process like?

My application process started at the end of 2018, where I applied for the Vacation Scheme with the firm. I felt that I would be able to show my strengths better in person so a Vacation Scheme appealed to me. The process started with an application form. I preferred Burges Salmon's initial application process, as I felt their questions allowed me to get more of my ability and passion across than most. I also liked the fact that Psychometric tests were not required until Assessment Centre, as I had never experienced these before and found them quite daunting.

I was then invited to attend an Assessment Centre in early 2019, where I spent a day with the firm taking part in their recruitment activities, and really gained a realistic insight into the firm. The firm put a lot of effort in to make sure we were at ease. It was nice to feel like we were not being caught out, and they wanted us to achieve our best. Having a 'Trainee Buddy' was really appreciated by us on the day.

After this, I was thrilled to be invited for a Vacation Scheme and chose to take part in early June 2019. On the final day of my Vacation Scheme, I was given the opportunity to interview for the Training Contract. Again, they made sure we were as supported as possible through this which helped my performance. I was thrilled to be offered the Training Contract a few weeks later.

Did you attend any events at the firm before applying? 

Yes, both at the firm's offices themselves, and in Cardiff where I currently study. I first met the Trainee Recruitment team at Cardiff Law Fair in October. I then attended a 'Meet the Firm' event at my University, before attending the Presentation Evening at Burges Salmon themselves prior to finally submitting my application. I found these events really helped me to get to know the firm, the people within it, and set my application and interview questions apart as I could show 'why Burges Salmon'.

What was your highlight of the vacation scheme?

For me, the whole experience of feeling part of the Burges Salmon firm. We were fully integrated into the firm from the start, and given the freedom throughout our Vacation Scheme to change our experience to what suited us or what we wished to get out of the time with the firm. This meant our experience was authentic and I could really begin to picture my future with the firm, which made the interview and initial nerves far easier to work with. Every person I came into contact with was friendly, interesting and passionate about their career, and that was what I wanted to find in potential future colleagues and firm culture.

What tips would you give to Bright Network members to help them secure a training contract?

I am a member of Bright Network, and found the online resources most helpful as they gave up to date information into the opportunities available and provided good insights into the firms that I would eventually apply to. The articles about commercial awareness and 'How I did it' helped me to feel more confident in my answers in these areas prior to application stage.

I would say that knowing why you want this career, and then why you want it at a particular firm is crucial - once you know that and can explain it, the whole process becomes a lot easier. I would also say the old cliche of 'it is important to be yourself' is spot on. If you are pretending to be someone else in your application, Vacation Scheme or interview then that is not the firm for you. Be confident in the hard work you have put in to get to this stage, and then make the right decision on where you want your future to take you. The rest will all work out!

To find out more about Burges Salmon and their opportunities, click here