Jason's vacation scheme experience at Bird & Bird
At the time of applying to Bird & Bird, I was in my final year at the University of York, studying Electronic Engineering with Business Management. I became interested in a legal career after completing a module, which brought to my attention the issues around technological innovation and intellectual property, and also artificial intelligence/machine learning within the legal industry. After I completed a few patent, contract, and copyright exercises, I realised that a technical background would be advantageous in the legal industry, as it would complement the analytical and problem-solving aspects of law, through finding solutions based on a set of rules. This, along with the intellectually challenging nature of the profession led me to pursue a career in law.
Why Bird & Bird?
I wanted to apply for firms which were innovative, embraced technology, and had strong Intellectual Property practices. I wanted to be someone who could fully utilise my technical background, hopefully provide valuable ideas which would be considered, and contribute to the overall development of the firm, and not be restricted as ‘just a lawyer’. Also, as a non-lawyer, I had a couple of negative preconceptions about law firm atmospheres, so I made sure to search for firms that I believed were friendly.
Naturally, I was drawn to Bird & Bird as it was consistently recognised as a leader across many fields, including Intellectual Property and Technology. I was also very interested in Bird & Bird’s sector focus, which allows their lawyers to specialise in specific commercial areas, and become experts in those fields. By training at Bird & Bird, I knew that I would get the chance to learn from the best lawyers within these sectors, and improve my overall development as a lawyer. Their sector focus also allows Bird & Bird to attract a high-quality client base within those fields. When looking through overall reviews of the firm, Bird & Bird consistently came up as a friendly firm, where all staff were approachable, and they had an open-door policy. Furthermore, as an avid gamer, I was also impressed when I heard the firm had eSports teams within their client base! Basically, I chose to pursue a career at Bird & Bird due to the combination of its award-winning reputation, stellar intellectual property and technology practices, excellent training potential, international reach, quality client base, and personable nature.
My vacation scheme lasted two weeks, where I sat with an associate in the Intellectual Property department. We were also assigned ‘Trainee Buddies’, who were trainees within the department who could help with any questions, take you to events, and help you find your feet within the firm. One thing that noticed about the open-door policy, was that there were almost literally no doors within the departments! This made approaching other members of staff at all levels, much more natural, and less intimidating.
During the vacation scheme, we were encouraged to attend various social events throughout the two weeks, many of which included free food and drinks! On the first day, the vacation scheme intake was split into two teams, where we then took part in a scavenger hunt within walking distance of the firm, which ended with food and drinks. It included tasks like gathering in a phone box, and doing face swaps. Normally, I tend to see icebreaker events as an unwanted formality, however, this was actually really fun and added light competition and laughter within the intake.
We later had a meal with the trainee buddies, which was followed with bowling. The meal was a great way to informally speak with the trainees to gain hints and tips, and learn more about the training contract at Bird & Bird.
Later in the first week, we were invited to the summer party in Shoreditch, which again was a great way to meet people within the firm, and see trainees, associates and partners in an informal setting. We were encouraged to have fun by members of all levels, and it was during this party that I was introduced to the associate who gave me my largest project during the vacation scheme.
I was very fortunate that my vacation scheme happened to coincide with the Intellectual Property party, which takes place at the Global Head of Intellectual Property’s house, which again, was a great way to meet new people and enjoy ourselves in another informal setting. (However, I know that the remainder of the intake took part in networking drinks at the firm, which I heard was great.)
The vacation scheme isn’t all about friendliness though, it is also about gaining an insight into law, and life at the firm. Although my supervisor made sure that I had plenty of work to complete throughout the two weeks, there were also plenty of emails going around the department asking if any summer schemers wanted to assist on other pieces of work. My supervisor also introduced me to many other members within the department, who I later approached to get involved with many projects. My particular work included proofreading, helping with drafts, searching for potential termination clauses within contracts, categorising trademarks, and learning about patent cases. I also got the chance to write a consolidated report on a variety of patent searching tools which would later be used by associates within the firm. There was plenty of opportunity to get involved with work, and learn from the lawyers in the department to get an ‘in the flesh’ insight into law. Along with the actual work, we had the opportunity to attend the Court of Appeal, which improved my commercial awareness, and overall knowledge around technology. There was never a moment during the vacation scheme where I didn’t have any work.
I would strongly suggest applying for vacation scheme, as not only is it the place where the firm recruits the majority of their trainees, but it is a fantastic way to learn more about Bird & Bird and law as a whole, and it gives them a larger opportunity to learn about you. Following the vacation scheme, I knew for certain that I would be very happy as a trainee at Bird & Bird.
Jason White, Future Trainee Solicitor