We caught up with Niamh to discuss the unique commercial insights she gained during her summer vacation scheme at RPC. Niamh shares how this experience has shaped her for her future training contract with the firm and outlines some top tips on how to improve your commercial awareness during the application process.
What stood out to you about RPC?
Having mooted at the UK Supreme Court whilst studying at the University of Bristol, I knew that I wanted to work at a firm that prioritised a contentious style of work. At RPC, there is a 70:30 split between contentious and non-contentious work. I also liked that they had a small trainee intake. With only twelve of us in each cohort, I knew that I would get the opportunity to take on real responsibility early on and get to know my fellow trainees and colleagues well.
What is the culture like at RPC?
Interacting with RPC throughout the application process, from my university law fair to the vacation scheme, made it clear that RPC carries out high-quality work within a collegiate and collaborative atmosphere. The vacation scheme showed me that people at RPC will go out of their way to give you feedback and provide you with new, challenging opportunities to facilitate your professional development. The vacation scheme has left me feeling that when I join RPC in 2022, I won’t just be joining a firm but joining a team of ambitious and thoroughly smart people.
What are your top tips for members going through the application process?
Understanding commercial awareness is key but it’s important to find the medium that works for you. All this talk about the necessity of being commercially aware can feel overwhelming at the start of your research especially given the sheer volume of information out there. To make it easier, I focused on how I usually absorb information and tailored that to reflect a more commercial outlook. I downloaded extra news apps, signed up to various legal publications and set up Google Alerts for the firms that I was researching. As a result, becoming commercially aware didn’t feel like a chore, as I was able to absorb information unconsciously. With a foundation for commercial awareness set, I was then able to conduct further research into particular areas of interest before my assessment days and interviews.
What was your favourite aspect of your time on the Summer Scheme at RPC?
The virtual experience was run extremely well. During the vacation scheme, I was working in the Intellectual Property & Technology team. We were assigned tasks and attended workshops that gave us insight into all of RPC's core areas of work. Whilst I enjoyed all of the tasks, my favourite aspect was getting to know the people at RPC. One evening we had a networking event which was fantastic as it provided the opportunity to meet people from across the firm and to learn about their background, work and interests.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The application process is lengthy and requires a lot of resilience. As such, when you get feedback, it’s important to reflect on this and identify areas to improve for next time. You have to make mistakes to learn from them. Make feedback your friend and seek to build on it with every application you complete.