Law student wins place on vacation scheme with 600-word essay
Any budding lawyer knows just how difficult it is to get a prized vacation scheme. But a Masters student from Birmingham won a place on Clifford Chance’s prestigious scheme with just 600 words.
Gareth-Lee Smith submitted an essay on 'ethics in business' for Clifford Chance’s sixth Intelligent Aid competition. He was one of 40 candidates selected to present to a panel of Clifford Chance partners at the firm’s head office in Canary Wharf. Gareth was crowned the overall winner for his performance, winning £5,000 towards his tuition fees and will join 19 of the winning finalists on Clifford Chance’s vacation scheme in the summer.
A delighted Gareth said: “Winning the competition against an original field of 450 entrants and 40 exceptionally talented finalists feels like a fantastic achievement. I am very much looking forward to the vacation scheme in August to see what working for the firm is really like. If it’s anything like my experience of the Intelligent Aid competition then I’m in for a great week.”
The annual Intelligent Aid competition challenges students to apply their knowledge in creative ways. This year, the best 40 candidates were invited to attend the final over two days where commercial awareness and presentation skills were put to the test by senior staff. The final also included presentations from Partners and lawyers to help candidates prepare for their own presentations. The top 20 finalists were awarded vacation scheme places, with Gareth being the overall winner.
Gareth said the whole experience changed his perceptions of the industry, and allowed him to gain a genuine insight into the firm: “I had worked in a couple of law firms before visiting Clifford Chance, so I did have some preconceptions,” he said. “But they were all blown away over those two days. Everybody was very generous with their time and energy, and we had the opportunity to ask trainees about what they really think about working for the firm. These are the sort of experiences that you simply cannot get by just attending lectures and seminars.
He added: “Not many people would voluntarily write yet another essay, but I would encourage anybody to do so for this competition. If you enter only one competition next year then make it this one: it might be just the kick-start you need for your career."