Prior to joining RPC, I was a commercial paralegal in-house for three years. I first came across RPC when the Commercial, Technology and Outsourcing Team (CTO Team) assisted my in-house team with streamlining the company's commercial contract work. The CTO Team, from the partner to the associates, delivered high-quality work as well as being fun and approachable to work with. This strong first impression, as well as RPC's small trainee intake (meaning greater responsibility) and RPC's 'strikingly real' manifesto (where they encourage its lawyers to bring their whole selves to work), led me to applying for RPC's Summer Vacation Scheme.
I successfully earned a place on the RPC Summer Vacation Scheme, which is RPC's primary way of recruiting trainees. Although it should be treated like a two-week interview, it is also an invaluable opportunity to see if RPC is the right fit for you as a trainee!
The two weeks of the vacation scheme allow you to spend a week in two different departments. During my first week, which was spent with the Intellectual Property Team, I was able to attend a trial (simply, by expressing enthusiasm/interest) and had the incredible opportunity to assist a Partner with a new client. I carried out research into the client's problem and presented my solution to the Partner. The solution was then given to the client during a client meeting (which I was able to attend) whereby the Partner gave me full credit for the work that I had done. My second week was spent with the General Liability and Medical Team and this was spent mostly off-site where I got to attend a tribunal which was an amazing experience. There were also lots of fun social events and opportunities to network with people from across the firm which made me feel really welcomed and that RPC were really invested in finding the best trainees for them. The vacation scheme ends with an interview on the last day. I was obviously ecstatic when I was then offered a training contract with RPC shortly afterwards.
During your training contract at RPC, you spend six month 'seats' in four different departments. My first seat was spent in Commercial Contracts and I was back with the CTO Team, but this time assisting them as their trainee. My first seat flew by and I attribute this to the fact that I was given a lot of responsibility and was really busy from the get-go. My work (and the clients) have been extremely varied – from reviewing and assisting in drafting contracts to providing research and advice for complex client issues. One of the main projects I was involved in was for a high-profile client's product launch in 13 different jurisdictions. My first seat pushed and challenged me which was exactly what I needed to expand my legal skills.
I am currently in my Insurance seat with the Property & Casualty team. During my time in Property & Casualty, I have assisted with the team's high-profile matters (i.e. by preparing hearing bundles) and have even drafted an advice report for a major insurer. The team are exceptionally friendly and have built up my confidence with contentious work.
So far, I have found life as a trainee challenging but rewarding at the same time. A training contract is designed to push you so that you become a well-rounded, highly-skilled lawyer. No two days are the same and I feel like I am getting a vast range of work meaning my legal skills and knowledge are constantly evolving.
I have also sat next to / opposite a Partner, a benefit of an open-plan office, in both of my seats. Initially, I was surprised at how closely trainees work with Partners – and how approachable they can be! I feel that exposure and accessibility pushes you to deliver your best work. As you can continue to do this and as your work continues to improve, you become a trusted member of the team and your responsibility only grows.
A training contract is definitely an experience and it is different for everyone. I believe it is important to take your time and do your research to find the right for firm for you – just like RPC was for me!