Summer Vacation Scheme: Theo Rees-Bidder

As we welcome our 2016 cohort of trainees, we thought you would like to hear about their journey from offer to trainee. Theo has just started in his first seat and will be sharing his experiences of being a new trainee at Bird & Bird over the next four weeks.

My background

I studied History and Politics at the University of Nottingham. I decided to pursue a career in law because I wanted a job that would both challenge me and be different every day; law allows you to theo-rees-bidderdevelop skills that you use on every matter or case but each will have its own unique facts and issues which need to be overcome.

I completed a vacation scheme at Bird & Bird in the summer of 2014 and was offered a training contract to start in 2016. I then studied the GDL and LPC at BPP University in London, which was sponsored by Bird & Bird. I was in regular contact with the graduate recruitment team throughout this time.

My first seat is in our Commercial group in London, primarily working across the Energy & Utilities and Defence sectors. It has been a really interesting start to my training contract. So far I have been involved in the final stages of a major energy supply contract. I have felt involved from the start, for example I have had the opportunity to make amendments to agreements, liaise with clients and sit in on conference calls.

Why I picked Bird & Bird?

Searching through hundreds of firms as an undergrad can be daunting. That’s why it’s important to know what you want when searching for the right firm. I knew I wanted to apply to a firm with a strong Commercial and IP focus, so it didn’t take me long to realise that Bird & Bird were a leading firm in both. I was also attracted by the firm’s sector focus; this allows the firm’s practice groups and international offices to link up and develop a deep understanding of the industries they work with. This provides an exciting opportunity for trainees to work with and learn from leading experts in these sectors. As a trainee at Bird & Bird you are taught more than just the law. You are taught why a decision has been made in the context of a particular sector, and how that decision benefits the client, which ultimately helps you develop your own industry knowledge.

My first experience of the firm was through a talk I attended at my university. This gave me a chance to speak with current trainees and was a great opportunity to ask any questions I had, either about the firm itself, or about the application process. I was able to speak to people who had been in my position only a year or two earlier. For me, hearing those trainees talk about the level of responsibility they were given early on in their training contract further convinced me that I wanted to apply to Bird & Bird.

The application process

Submitting an application form can be daunting, so it is important to make sure you have done your research and understand what is important to Bird & Bird. After my application form was assessed, I was invited to complete a video interview: this consists of competency based questions as well as questions to test your commercial awareness.

After the video interview I was successful in getting on one of the firm’s assessment days. This involved a negotiation task with other candidates, a written exercise and a short interview. My advice for the assessment day is to be yourself, this is an opportunity to engage with the firm and show them your personality. I was offered a place on the Summer vacation scheme, which is the route via which the firm recruits the majority of its future trainees.

The Summer vacation scheme

I sat in the Dispute Resolution department for the duration of my scheme. This is one of the features that set the firm apart from other firms for me: sitting in one department allows you to settle into the department and build relationships.

The vacation scheme provides a fantastic opportunity to get a glimpse of what being a trainee at Bird & Bird is all about. I spent part of my scheme helping a trainee review a contract to see if any of the terms had been breached as our client was contemplating litigation. One of the things which struck me was the quality of the clients the firm has and that I was being allowed to work on cases involving such well-known brands.

Another great feature of the scheme is the group task you have to present in a team of four or five to a panel of partners. Preparing for this presentation allows you to visit all the areas of the firm and meet a range of partners and associates. It helps you understand how the different practice groups, sectors and business support teams work together. I even got the opportunity to meet David Kerr, the CEO, which provided me with a unique opportunity to find out his vision for the future of Bird & Bird.

The vacation scheme is not all about work however!  You are encouraged to get fully involved in the social side of the firm. During my scheme there was the opportunity to get involved in touch rugby, rounders, cricket and football. Playing isn’t compulsory; coming along to spectate is equally encouraged! These social events are great fun and give you the chance to experience a more relaxed side of the firm and mix with people who may become future colleagues.

I cannot recommend applying for the vacation scheme highly enough; the majority of my colleagues spent time on a vacation scheme with the firm, and it’s an excellent opportunity for you to get to know the firm, and for the firm get to know you.

Thanks for reading – next week’s blog will cover my experience on the Legal Practice Course and the Professional Skills Course!