Sanaa Mekki completed a Vacation Scheme at Linklaters in July 2016. She studied law at the London School of Economics.
What did you do while on the Vacation Scheme?
I sat in two departments over the four-week scheme: Capital Markets and Banking. The scheme was comprehensive, with a good mix of work and social events. As well as after-work socials twice a week, we regularly met up for working breakfasts and lunches. I attended a number of talks about the firm, learning about its practice areas and strategy. There was always help at hand as I sat next to an Associate or Managing Associate, and I was given plenty of interesting work to do. I even received work from Associates in other departments.
What did you feel that you gained from the placement?
A lot of people don’t know what working in commercial law really involves as it’s not generally taught at university. So it was great to experience it first-hand. I realised how complex and intricately connected the firm’s different departments are. Overall, the experience really confirmed that this was the kind of career I wanted.
Which were the most enjoyable – and most challenging – aspects of the scheme?
The group work I did with my fellow Vacation Schemers was one of the highlights. Teamed up, we were tasked with pitching work to a panel of partners. They were playing the roles of potential clients so that it was a realistic simulation of a commercial solicitor’s role. Trying to balance priorities was a challenge. For example, I would be given work to do by an Associate just as I was about to attend a presentation. And throughout the scheme each of us had to work on a personal project in addition to all the different things we were doing each day.
Did the scheme end with a training contract interview or some other kind of further recruitment process?
There is always an interview with a Partner at the end of the scheme. Nothing about it is fixed, so it was unlike the interview process to get onto the scheme, which was split into a competency interview and a technical interview. Instead, I was asked questions which ranged from technical matters to finding out a bit more about me. Although an interview like that is difficult to prepare for, the experience itself wasn’t daunting at all. The Partner wanted to give me the opportunity to demonstrate my skills, not to catch me out.
Is there one key thing that you took away from the experience that you would pass on as advice to others?
Take everything in and make sure that you’re focused on learning as much as possible about Linklaters: for example, the firm’s strategy and future plans for different areas of practice. It’s really important to demonstrate your specific interest in the role and the firm.