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City firm has offered to interview me for a TC immediately after a Vac Scheme offer.

ChicoAnon

New Member
Apr 2, 2022
1
2
TLDR: I was offered and accepted a Vac Scheme at my dream firm, but they have reached out to me explaining that they want to give me the option to switch streams into the direct TC recruitment stream as they are accelerating trainee recruitment. If I switch, I'll lose my Vac Scheme spot.

Background: I am a recent GDL graduate. After about 40 rejections over two recruitment rounds, I was stunned to receive an offer to interview at an excellent commercial firm in the city. I have been juggling several hospitality jobs to keep myself afloat while studying full-time, and as a result, I have no legal experience outside of my education. I was able to land the interview in part thanks to a diversity initiative I believe.

When I got the offer for a vac scheme, I was over the moon. I made it clear during my interview that I was lacking in experience in commercial law but was able to point out transferable skills.

Problem: The firm just contacted me proposing that I switch to the direct TC route as they are rapidly growing several trainee cohorts for 2023-24, and I am able to complete my SQE before then. My current vac scheme cohort leads into TCs in 2024. If I take their offer to switch, I would lose my vac scheme spot. I am extremely conflicted.

On one hand, this would mean several more interviews and assessment centres. As I lack experience, I would be very much on the back foot. I would also lose my chance at attending the vac scheme and gaining much-needed experience. I fear that I am already lagging behind, and if I miss out on my only vacation scheme, I will be extremely disappointed.

On the other hand, I do not want to seem uncooperative or lacking in ambition. The firm has made it clear that the firm is rapidly growing and needs more trainees. Both my parents are over the moon about the offer for a direct TC stream and interpret the interview offer as overwhelmingly good news.

I really am desperate for more experience. As I am lacking in this area, I believe my best chance at securing a TC is by showing up at the firm for a week to demonstrate my strengths in person. Would I be stupid to pass on their offer for the direct TC stream, or should I continue onto the Vac Scheme?

Many thanks! I really appreciate any advice you may have! The market is extremely competitive, and I feel like this one decision will make or break my legal career :(
 

James Carrabino

Legendary Member
Staff member
Future Trainee
TCLA Moderator
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Junior Lawyer 11
Oct 12, 2021
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Hi @ChicoAnon, you have found yourself with a tricky decision to make, but take a step back for a second!

You have done a phenomenal job not just to get selected for a vac scheme but to get offered the opportunity to forgo the vac scheme altogether and interview directly for a TC! If you can get this far once, I know for a fact that you can get this far again :) All of this is to say that this one decision certainly will not make or break your legal career!

Now there are definitely some details that I would need before trying to give my fully considered perspective on the issue, such as whether you get the sense that the firm is truly offering you an 'either/or' option or whether they are really pushing the direct TC route. If it is either/or then you should choose whichever option you are most comfortable with, but you know best from the tone and the way they offered you the direct TC interview how they will interpret a rejection of their offer. If it is ambiguous then I honestly would not hesitate to call one of your interviewers or graduate recruitment and explain your conundrum.

The other thing worth considering is whether this is your top-choice firm, or at least a firm that you would be very happy at. If the answer is yes, then I would lean towards maximising your chances for this firm and if you feel that accepting the direct TC interview offer would be your way of maximising your chances, then that would probably be the approach I'd take.

If you do truly have an either/or option and if this firm would not necessarily have been one of your absolute top choices to start with, then I would probably lean towards doing the vacation scheme (but these are massive ifs as I have explained above). The reason for me suggesting this is that you have indicated that you believe your best chance at securing a TC would be by showing up at the firm to demonstrate your strengths in person. I know, for example, that I am quite strong at interviewing and would actually feel more comfortable at 'performing' in an interview than over a long period of time when everyone else is doing their best too, but it sounds like you are the opposite.

The other consideration is that should you be unsuccessful in gaining a TC offer, you would have a vacation scheme to show for it which you can then leverage in further applications. This would help you not only get past the application stage more regularly, but it would give you something to discuss in interviews and can help clarify your own motivations for pursuing law!

It is a tricky situation but remember that you are only in the situation because you are such an excellent candidate :D And whatever happens, I can promise that failure to gain a TC would not spell the end of your legal career - you will find yourself back in a great situation like this again in no time!
 

George Maxwell

Legendary Member
Staff member
TCLA Moderator
Gold Member
Premium Member
Junior Lawyer 50
Oct 25, 2021
552
1,067
TLDR: I was offered and accepted a Vac Scheme at my dream firm, but they have reached out to me explaining that they want to give me the option to switch streams into the direct TC recruitment stream as they are accelerating trainee recruitment. If I switch, I'll lose my Vac Scheme spot.

Background: I am a recent GDL graduate. After about 40 rejections over two recruitment rounds, I was stunned to receive an offer to interview at an excellent commercial firm in the city. I have been juggling several hospitality jobs to keep myself afloat while studying full-time, and as a result, I have no legal experience outside of my education. I was able to land the interview in part thanks to a diversity initiative I believe.

When I got the offer for a vac scheme, I was over the moon. I made it clear during my interview that I was lacking in experience in commercial law but was able to point out transferable skills.

Problem: The firm just contacted me proposing that I switch to the direct TC route as they are rapidly growing several trainee cohorts for 2023-24, and I am able to complete my SQE before then. My current vac scheme cohort leads into TCs in 2024. If I take their offer to switch, I would lose my vac scheme spot. I am extremely conflicted.

On one hand, this would mean several more interviews and assessment centres. As I lack experience, I would be very much on the back foot. I would also lose my chance at attending the vac scheme and gaining much-needed experience. I fear that I am already lagging behind, and if I miss out on my only vacation scheme, I will be extremely disappointed.

On the other hand, I do not want to seem uncooperative or lacking in ambition. The firm has made it clear that the firm is rapidly growing and needs more trainees. Both my parents are over the moon about the offer for a direct TC stream and interpret the interview offer as overwhelmingly good news.

I really am desperate for more experience. As I am lacking in this area, I believe my best chance at securing a TC is by showing up at the firm for a week to demonstrate my strengths in person. Would I be stupid to pass on their offer for the direct TC stream, or should I continue onto the Vac Scheme?

Many thanks! I really appreciate any advice you may have! The market is extremely competitive, and I feel like this one decision will make or break my legal career :(
Hey @ChicoAnon,

Thank you for posting this question as this really is an interesting one.

I think that @James Carrabino has made some great points here.

To add my own thoughts:

I think that James' suggestion of reaching out to GR and being honest about the conundrum that you find yourself in is a very good one. That being said, none of the advice that we can give should be determinative because we just don't have all the facts (for example, whether the firm is giving you a hint here - or is genuinely giving you a free choice).

If it were me my thought process would include considering:

1. The benefits of both routes

With a vacation scheme, whatever happens, you would have something to show for it. You would also get paid, increase your network, arguably become better acquainted with life as a trainee (I know that you have already completed the GDL though so this is perhaps less relevant) and gain a better understanding of the sort of work you might be interested in (i.e., gain legal work experience). You would also have the opportunity to get to know the firm better (to see if it really is where you want to train).

I will also add that if the firm employs an holistic approach to assessing vacation schemers (i.e., you are assessed across all the tasks you complete while at the firm, rather than the firm deciding entirely on the final 'exit' interview) then you are likely to have a more even shot on a vacation scheme than via the direct TC route (given the nature of direct TC interviews).

With a direct training contract, you would avoid the stress of a vacation scheme- they really are stressful. Granted, you would have to face an interview and perhaps a written exercise etc. (which would also be stressful) but this would span a few hours rather than a week or longer. You would also be able to start work earlier. The converse of this is that you could go and do something entirely different (if the dates work out) and go and travel between finishing the SQE/LPC and working.

2. What my strengths are (i.e., which route suits me better)

Personally, I would feel more comfortable completing a vacation scheme because anything can happen in an interview, whereas on a vacation scheme although there are more chances for things to go wrong, there are also more opportunities for things to go right!

That being said, as James mentioned, this is definitely not the case for everyone.

3. The number of vacation schemers that generally receive offers following the vacation scheme

There is conflicting advice on this, but some vacation schemes have very poor rates of conversion purely owing to the numbers of vacation schemers to TCs. This would likely factor for me (although again there is likely to be huge competition for TC places via the direct route too).

This list is of course non-exhaustive (and I will keep thinking if there are things that I have missed here).

I should emphasise as James did, this decision will likely not define your legal career. If you do not get a TC at this firm, the fact that you have been offered a vacation scheme goes to show that you are a capable candidate.

I hear what you say about experiencing rejection in the past, but you are not the same candidate that you were when you started the process of applying. Sending 40+ applications will have improved your ability to write effective applications (at the very least).

I hope that helps and please do let us know what you end up choosing 🚀

Always here if you would like any further thoughts!
 

Sarai

Star Member
Premium Member
Oct 13, 2021
41
22
TLDR: I was offered and accepted a Vac Scheme at my dream firm, but they have reached out to me explaining that they want to give me the option to switch streams into the direct TC recruitment stream as they are accelerating trainee recruitment. If I switch, I'll lose my Vac Scheme spot.

Background: I am a recent GDL graduate. After about 40 rejections over two recruitment rounds, I was stunned to receive an offer to interview at an excellent commercial firm in the city. I have been juggling several hospitality jobs to keep myself afloat while studying full-time, and as a result, I have no legal experience outside of my education. I was able to land the interview in part thanks to a diversity initiative I believe.

When I got the offer for a vac scheme, I was over the moon. I made it clear during my interview that I was lacking in experience in commercial law but was able to point out transferable skills.

Problem: The firm just contacted me proposing that I switch to the direct TC route as they are rapidly growing several trainee cohorts for 2023-24, and I am able to complete my SQE before then. My current vac scheme cohort leads into TCs in 2024. If I take their offer to switch, I would lose my vac scheme spot. I am extremely conflicted.

On one hand, this would mean several more interviews and assessment centres. As I lack experience, I would be very much on the back foot. I would also lose my chance at attending the vac scheme and gaining much-needed experience. I fear that I am already lagging behind, and if I miss out on my only vacation scheme, I will be extremely disappointed.

On the other hand, I do not want to seem uncooperative or lacking in ambition. The firm has made it clear that the firm is rapidly growing and needs more trainees. Both my parents are over the moon about the offer for a direct TC stream and interpret the interview offer as overwhelmingly good news.

I really am desperate for more experience. As I am lacking in this area, I believe my best chance at securing a TC is by showing up at the firm for a week to demonstrate my strengths in person. Would I be stupid to pass on their offer for the direct TC stream, or should I continue onto the Vac Scheme?

Many thanks! I really appreciate any advice you may have! The market is extremely competitive, and I feel like this one decision will make or break my legal career :(
I think you should go down the direct TC route. If the firm offered you that option it means they don't believe you need additional experience in order to get the TC. Don't disqualify yourself, there's a lot of transferable skills from your hospitality job and other interests that can be helpful in law.

The only benefit of a VS over direct TC is it gives you time to evaluate if a firm is really right for you but the end goal of a VS is a TC so you might as well just do a direct TC. There's also a risk of doing the VS and not getting at TC so again I think the direct TC route is better.
 
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