What is a placement scheme really like?

by Margaux Harris and Alex Plant, placement scheme students and now current qualified solicitors

Employees in foyer

Margaux Harris and Alex Plant discuss their placement scheme experiences and their advice to anyone considering applying.

What did you do while on the placement scheme?

Margaux: It was a very varied week, which is why I enjoyed it so much. I was based in the real estate practice group, where I did a variety of tasks. I spent time reviewing and marking up documents, and it was great to see how many of my amendments were incorporated into the final versions.

On the social side of things it was jam-packed, with the firm making sure that we met as many different people as possible. We had drinks with the trainees in the Heron Tower, which was a good opportunity to talk to them informally about their experiences, and there were lunches with trainees and more senior members of the firm.

Alex: I spent the first week of the scheme in the marine and international trade (MIT) group. The work was every bit as interesting and varied as I'd hoped – I sat in on a case which was being heard in the Court of Appeal, and conducted research on a niche point of law for a shipping dispute case. In the second week I sat in the finance group, where I worked closely with a trainee and supervising partner on the final stages of a restructuring project.

Working with both teams gave me a broad perspective of what goes on at the firm and enabled me to try my hand at a wide range of tasks, from compiling letters and amending documents to taking notes during conference calls. Each day was broken up with lunch with trainees and supervisors, while mornings were often spent attending introductory talks with associates from the various practice groups.

What did you feel that you gained from the placement?

Margaux: The biggest thing was confidence; I hadn't done anything like this before and the idea of being in such a reputable firm was daunting. But everyone was so welcoming and friendly, and there was real recognition of the contribution that I made, which quickly allowed my confidence to grow. By the end, I was comfortable talking to people at all levels of seniority and had a much better knowledge of the firm itself.

Alex: The scheme gave me a genuinely honest insight into the atmosphere and feel of the firm – something you can't experience in a brochure or through a website. For example, the introductory talks given by associates felt like a two-way process where our questions were encouraged and answered honestly – while it was clear that they all enjoyed working at the firm and value the culture, it didn't feel as though they were sugar coating anything.

Which were the most enjoyable aspects of the scheme?

Margaux: I really enjoyed meeting so many different people, all of whom were very welcoming and happy to give advice and talk about their work. In particular, it was great to hear from the trainees about their experiences from an international secondment. My trainee buddy was especially helpful, and we've met up since.

Alex: One particular highlight was a talk given to us by the firm's chief executive, Sharon White. It was great to be able to ask questions about the growth and future strategy of the firm, and I think it is pretty rare for placement scheme students to have the opportunity to quiz someone at such a senior level.

Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?

Margaux: Get involved with as many different things as possible and speak to people across the firm. Think about how you can make a good impression throughout the placement and with everyone you meet.

Alex: Invest real effort in speaking to as many people as possible, whatever their level of seniority. Not only will this give you a well-rounded feel for the firm, but the enthusiasm you show will naturally make a lasting impression on people.

Find out more about our placements schemes.