Alexander Hughes shares his experience at a law firm and expresses the importance of undertaking a vacation scheme

Unfortunately, I was unable to undertake the prize of a vacation scheme with Mayer Brown, but only as a result of already having many schemes in place for the summer.

Vacation schemes are a fantastic experience and I have learned a great deal through mine. For example, while sitting in the banking department at one firm, I gained insight into the role of a law firm when acting for lending financial institutions as well as a wide variety of borrowers, including companies and private equity houses. As a vacation scheme student I was able to perform typical trainee tasks such as creating an index for the Bible to the transaction, drafting board minutes and even sending emails to clients requesting documents and signatures.

While you’re expected to do some work on a vacation scheme, the majority of your time is taken up by your supervisor teaching you the fundamentals of the practice area, attending various practice area presentations and, of course, attending the many social events organised by the firm.

I would definitely recommend anyone considering a career as a solicitor to undertake a vacation scheme. Not only are they enjoyable but they also give you a very good insight into the firm, allowing you to make an informed decision about whether or not you wish to work at the firm that you wouldn’t be able to make if you applied directly through a training contract application. You also have the opportunity to experience a variety of practice areas. For example through my roles I have also worked in restructuring and insolvency; while the banking lawyers help set up the loan agreement, the restructuring lawyers are on hand when something goes wrong, namely the borrower’s inability to pay back the debt under the terms of the facility agreement. I never appreciated just how many things a lawyer has to consider on any particular matter, both legally and commercially, until I undertook these schemes!

Finally, if you’re considering a career in law then I would strongly recommend that you apply for the Law Undergraduate of the Year Award! Mayer Brown is a first rate international law firm and undertaking a scheme there will not only be a very enjoyable and informative experience, but it will also significantly increase your chances of obtaining a training contract at the firm. This is because you have three weeks to impress the firm instead of just a few hours at an assessment day! Winning the award in itself is a highly regarded achievement and even being shortlisted in the top ten will look fantastic on your CV!