First-hand accounts

Previous vacation scheme candidates speak about their time spent on the vacation scheme.

Patrick, Francesca and Chloe all spent two weeks at the firm and gained some real insight in the day to day work of our associates and partners.

Patrick Dunsmore


I spent my vacation scheme divided between the contentious trusts and succession team and the family team. During that time my tasks were varied from; writing up attendance notes after client calls, completing simple legal forms (including a divorce petition) to undertaking legal research. I also attended court, several meetings with clients and a training session for trainees and associates (on the American legal system and their wills and trusts practices).

I was fortunate enough to go to the Central Family Court with my supervising partner for a divorce case. It was fascinating to see how solicitors and barristers work together, and how deals are often struck outside of court. We were at the courtrooms for over seven hours before seeing a judge, meaning many conversations with our client on both professional and informal matters. Crucially, this time allowed the barristers from each side to meet in the corridors and thrash out a suitable arrangement, so the judge merely ‘rubber-stamped’ an agreement already reached. Our clients avoided a potentially acrimonious court dispute, and it was rewarding to see our client’s relief and delight when we achieved a favourable result for her.

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Withers attracts all personality types and backgrounds – they need to, to reflect the diversity of their clients – and I felt truly I could be myself there. Everyone is hardworking and professional of course; but beyond that, people are friendly, genuine, and looked out for one another. Embrace the opportunity to show the best of yourself and you will excel.

Patrick Dunsmore - vacation scheme student

Francesca White


I spent one week in the contentious trusts and succession team and the other in private client.

The work in the contentious trusts and succession team, was varied, fast-paced and exciting. My mentor was excellent at explaining new concepts and helped me gain an understanding of the entire litigation process. Whilst the work was challenging, it was exhilarating rather than daunting. In the private client department I experienced first-hand the extent of Withers’ international reach and the firm’s dedication to growth markets. It was fascinating to learn how wealth preservation works against the backdrop of global economic and social issues. My personal highlight was being asked to conduct an in-depth analysis of a high profile tax fraud case. This was a unique opportunity to work on a complex case at the peak of its contention, alongside individuals at the forefront of their specialism.

In addition to our departmental responsibilities, vacation scheme students participate in a fictional case study allowing us to carry out our own client interviews, and make and contest claims resulting in a mock mediation. This was my favourite part of the vacation scheme, as we had the autonomy to treat a case as our own, working together to brainstorm arguments and meet deadlines. We were given ample opportunity to showcase our work, and both our trainee ‘buddies’ and mentors were always on hand to listen to ideas and provide feedback. This genuine open-door policy ensured a friendly atmosphere across the entire firm, and the camaraderie amongst the trainees themselves immediately made it clear that the firm has a close-knit, collegiate culture. The small group of vacation scheme students and the intimacy of Withers’ London office ensures no risk of anonymity.

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Throughout the vacation scheme I discovered that Withers possesses a character distinguishing it from the uniformity of other city firms. The breadth of practice areas makes for an eclectic working environment where creativity is encouraged, and the diversity of the work ensures lack of repetition. It quickly became evident that Withers is a modern firm with a progressive, international outlook, providing unparalleled expertise to a stellar client list.

Francesca White - Vacation scheme student

Chloe Harris


I spent my first seat in litigation and the my second in the family team. The tasks I undertook gave me a real opportunity to contribute whilst providing great experience. For example, I was asked to read through the correspondence in a case and highlight the parts that I felt would strengthen our client’s case – the work I produced was used by an associate. Observing how the family team use soft skills in order to help clients navigate legal issues was also a really valuable experience. I was also given the opportunity to write an article on handling childcare arrangements which really highlighted the balance between using soft skills and legal knowledge in the family department.

One task I particularly enjoyed involved a defamation case. I was asked to watch a documentary that had been aired on TV to ascertain what had been said about the client. I then read through the correspondence from the documentary producers, outlining their defence. I particularly enjoyed this task as, after watching the documentary and putting together the evidence, I saw how the legal process then worked. The associate involved in the case also took time to explain the different aspects of the case. I found with all the tasks I undertook, people were happy to spend time explaining the issues to me in depth, which made the whole experience richer.

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I found it really interesting to learn how many different aspects there are to being a solicitor at Withers. Beyond resolving legal issues for clients, people also undertake work to help the business side of the firm. For example, one trainee I spoke to writes a blog explaining the impact of the latest legal rulings. I also had the opportunity to attend meetings with clients and saw that alongside legal knowledge, the partners I was shadowing also used soft skills in order to build a good relationship with the client.

Chloe Harris - vacation scheme student