I’m Monique Chan, a final year Law and Business student at the University of Warwick, and a future trainee solicitor at Allen & Overy in Hong Kong. I’m thrilled to be able to share my experience of their Summer Vacation Scheme.
I’ve always been very interested in learning about how to facilitate commercial deals, as well as the mechanisms behind complex transactions. When I received an offer to participate in Allen & Overy’s summer vacation scheme in Hong Kong, I was ecstatic at the opportunity to gain further insight into this field at one of the most prestigious international law firms in the world. Allen & Overy was the firm I was most interested in since participating in a Summer Law Trek in 2018, which gave me the chance to visit their Hong Kong office and get to know its people. Allen & Overy had stood out to me as I was immediately attracted by the professionalism, friendly environment, and incredible training programme, and I looked forward to getting to know the firm better during the vacation scheme. As the Covid-19 pandemic grew increasingly unstable, it became clear that alternative arrangements were needed as it was no longer safe for people to work in close contact at the office.
When Allen & Overy announced that the summer vacation scheme would take place virtually, I wasn’t sure what to expect. How will I be able to get to know anyone? How will I be able to make a strong impression on the team? Will this adversely affect my chances of getting a training contract? Despite this, I approached the vacation scheme with an open mind, trusting that the recruitment team at Allen & Overy would come up with a programme that was just as engaging and enriching as if it had been in-person. In the event I was able to build a close relationship with the team, worked effectively under their guidance and received a training contract offer from them.
I spent two weeks in Allen & Overy’s regulatory practice, and was assigned a trainer and a buddy – an associate and trainee, respectively – to oversee my progress and offer a helping hand whenever I needed one. The graduate team checked in with all of us frequently, to make sure that we were getting the most out of the virtual vacation scheme and that we were adjusting to the virtual working environment. Even though I was not physically in the office, I felt like I was a part of the team, as I had the opportunity to work on projects involving current clients, and to gain hands-on experience by assisting the team with their high-profile deals. It was definitely important to be more proactive and stay engaged with the work, but the team was always there to check on how I was doing, and to make sure that I fully grasped the requirements of each task. I got to know trainees, associates and partners from Allen & Overy’s other practice areas through various drop-in sessions and virtual networking events. It was a great chance to learn about Allen & Overy’s team culture, practice areas, and gain an insight into why all these amazing individuals chose to work there.
Of course, one of the most crucial parts of the vacation scheme experience is undertaking various assessments for a training contract at Allen & Overy. Although all the assessments were done virtually, it was, in practice, every bit as engaging as it would have been had they been done in-person. For the final interview, I prepared a presentation for two partners, and answered questions about different commercial practices. The partners made sure to communicate with me effectively and answer any questions I had for them about their own experiences at the firm. Participating in such assessments can undoubtedly be daunting, but it is actually a great opportunity to learn and build on your critical thinking skills.
I’ve always believed that learning from those who have experience in the field is the most effective way to develop your career and that the people you surround yourself with during your two years as a trainee exert a significant influence over your development as a newly qualified solicitor. Having a team that is willing to support and guide you as you navigate the nuances of your new surroundings makes a fundamental difference in your experience, which is why I valued my time at Allen & Overy so much. Even though the vacation scheme took place virtually and I was not in close physical proximity to the team, they made me feel included and made time to get to know me, as well as offer advice in areas well beyond the work assigned to me. I was deeply appreciative of how supportive and accommodating the team was, and how they took the initiative to make the environment as positive and nurturing as possible for a student who was not even in the office. I’m still in touch with my trainee buddy, who always makes time to chat with me and answer any questions I have about upcoming tasks. This is illustrative of the support I can expect to receive as I begin my journey as a trainee and throughout my legal career.
I’m grateful for the experience and am excited to join the firm in 2022!