As one of the world's preeminent commercial law firms, Clifford Chance has always prided itself on being a pioneer, something that really shows in its unique SPARK programme. Open to first-year students from all degree backgrounds and universities, as well as second-year students on four-year degrees, it offers the opportunity to secure a training contract (the two years of on-the-job training required to qualify as a solicitor) a year before law students traditionally start to apply for them.
'The programme was a hot topic among my fellow students,' recalls law student Oliver James, who completed the programme in July 2017. 'There was a buzz around how you could get a training contract. However, I also saw it as a brilliant way to discover what a commercial law career entails.'
London to Amsterdam
Over the course of a week, students experience life at Clifford Chance and its different practice areas (specialisms), taking part in interactive workshops and workshadowing opportunities. They even visit one of the firm's international offices. They are paid £350 for the week and there is a bursary to provide financial assistance for those that need it.
Law student Tyra Ntege, who attended SPARK in June 2018 says: 'I don't think there are many firstyear schemes that take you abroad – let alone offer you so much access to the work of the firm and its people.' It's no wonder that the programme won the award for best work experience programme at the TARGETjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards, which celebrate the best in early careers recruitment, for two years running.
Training contracts sorted
Both Oliver and Tyra were offered training contracts upon completing the programme. 'I was amazed, happy and so relieved,' Tyra says. 'This was the only firm I wanted to work for.' Oliver was also pleased: 'It means that you have to focus less on your career for the rest of your degree. Without job-hunting stress, I had a really nice two years.'
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