What I wish I had known before my virtual scheme:  11 tips from Law students!

If you’re preparing for a vacation scheme in the virtual world, then this blog is for you! KCL Law students submitted tips and feedback from virtual vacation schemes – and they had a lot of great advice to offer. 

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Introduction to virtual vacation schemes

Due to Covid-19, the legal sector has had to adapt in many ways, including offering virtual work experience opportunities (also known as vacation schemes) to students and graduates. While virtual schemes can be very different to the in-person experience, firms have nevertheless designed them to replicate the benefits and opportunities of a career in the legal sector.

The below tips have been collated from KCL students who completed virtual vacation schemes in spring 2021, and are based on their lived experience.


Tips for healthy habits

“A virtual scheme is physically and mentally exhausting, probably more than an in-person one because you are hyper-visible at all times. Take regular rest breaks and make sure to have a day or two without screen time before the scheme starts! Also, try to get fresh air (e.g. via an open window) and 8+ hours sleep if you can!”

“Try not to sweat the small stuff, if you (like me) get very distracted by your facial expressions on Zoom/Teams perhaps minimise your picture (once you know you look okay of course!) and focus on the person presenting rather than yourself.”

“Take all of your nerves and repurpose them into a drive to succeed. Every time I was nervous, or fearful, I tried my best to turn those feelings into motivation to do really well and make every second count!”


Tips for building industry awareness

“It is very important to stay up to date with commercial awareness stories before, during and after your virtual scheme. If you have a final Training Contract interview you are likely to be asked about news stories that have been ongoing during the scheme – don’t take your pedal off the gas!”

“KCL has a free student subscription to the Financial Times which you can download onto your phone and receive daily app updates – such a great way to stay on top of business news when you are busy with the scheme. Podcasts are also great for this purpose too!”

“Listen to the FT Podcast – it’s 10 mins daily and an easy way to keep up with commercial awareness. It’s also useful to read the Monday Article Series on The Corporate Law Academy.”


Tips for prepping for a vacation scheme

“Make a firm fact sheet – understand what has been going on in the firm lately and developments in the industries/practice areas they specialise. This would help you ask informed questions about the firm.”

“Write a list of key drivers for you – what are the important factors you look for in a law firm personally and why? Aim to find out things about the firm throughout the vac scheme that fit into these factors. This would help you answer the question “Why X firm?””

“Try and find out what your virtual vacation scheme will entail in terms of work – for example, my scheme involved Forage work tasks, so I practised a few of the available virtual internships online to get a feel of what to expect. No need to overly prepare beyond this though!”


Tips for networking

“If you’re preparing for your scheme, reach out to people who have recently completed the scheme – either from King’s or anyone on LinkedIn. You would be surprised how helpful strangers can be. This would help you understand the format of the scheme and what to prepare for.”

“For Zoom coffees and networking calls, ensure that you arrive prepared with relevant questions based on your research. But don’t go overboard and feel as though you need to speak to everyone in the office! Quality conversations with a few people over quantity is key.”


Tips for keeping effective records and learning notes

“When you start the scheme, keep a VS journal where you systematically record everything – sessions, people you speak to, your questions, their responses, etc.”

“Go through the day’s schedule and prepare at least one question for each session in advance – do this the night before each day.”

“Try and keep a concise diary (a 1-pager) consolidating your detailed notes at the end of each day, it makes it much easier to prepare for the final Training Contract  interview! I also recorded a 5-minute podcast/voice note at the end of each day to remind myself of what I learnt during presentations, what tasks I had completed and what my goal was for the next day.”


Tips for social situations online

“Be engaged in all the sessions – smile, nod – it goes a long way, especially in a virtual environment.”

“Before zoom presentations and socials try your best to stay visible (on camera) and communicate with your peers e.g. by saying morning/afternoon when you enter the call.”


Tips for the final interview and end of the scheme

“If you have a final Training Contract interview, try and contextualise your motivational answers based on what you learnt during the vacation scheme – e.g. ‘going into the scheme I was interested in X LLP’s corporate M&A practice which was confirmed by attending X person’s presentation and speaking to a trainee within the department!’ – it’s an effective tactic for the interview.”

“If your Training Contract interview is at the end of the vacation scheme, I recommend you review your journal, update your answers to questions with new information that you have learned on the scheme (Why law?/Why commercial law? Why X firm? Why you?).”

“After the scheme, send thank you emails to the graduate recruitment team, your mentor/trainee buddy and the partners who interviewed you.”


If you’d like to explore more careers advice, tips and supporting resources, head over to our law KEATS pages!

In addition, you can watch a recording of a recent career workshop “Making the most of your legal work experience placements” on KEATS.