London 2012 forces firms to shift vac scheme dates

The London 2012 Olympic games have thrown next year’s graduate recruitment timetables into chaos, with some firms being forced to reschedule their vacation schemes.

With over five million extra people descending on the capital, the likelihood of accommodation price hikes and a potential strain on transport several top 20 law firms have decided to shake-up their vacation scheme dates next summer.

As key sponsors of LOCOG, Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer is reducing its three, three-week summer schemes, to three two-week placements. The first two will sit prior to the games, while the third will be sandwiched between the Olympics and Paralympics.

The Olympics are set to run from the 27 July to 12 August 2012 and will be followed by the Paralympics, which will be held between 29 August and 9 September.

Graduate recruitment partner Simon Johnson said: “As LOCOG’s lawyers, we will continue to be heavily involved during the Olympics. On the one hand it would be a great time to be at Freshfields because there’ll be so much Olympics-related activity, but students wouldn’t get a true impression of what life is like here.”

Herbert Smith, meanwhile, has decided to slash its third vacation scheme, choosing to increase the number of students on its other two placements by 50 per cent. It is also considering the impact of the games on training contract interview dates, which currently fall over the Paralympics dates.

Head of resourcing Peter Chater said: “We believe it will be a struggle for both students and supervisors to get into the office over the Olympic period because of transport issues, and we also think it likely that a high percentage of supervisors will want to take holiday.”

“We are still considering what the impact may be on our direct-entry training contract interview season, as our usual time for this coincides with the Paralympics. We need to work out whether this will have as significant impact to transport and accommodation as with the Olympics.”

Hogan Lovells has also confirmed its intention to move the dates of its summer schemes, with the two placements now running back-to-back so they conclude before the Olympics start.

Head of resourcing Claire Harris said: “We talked to quite a few people who gave us advice following their experiences of the Sydney Olympics. It is clear that there will be accommodation and travel problems, and the chance that the social activities for the students could be disrupted as well.”

Elswhere, Simmons & Simmons and CMS Cameron McKenna are still reviewing their positions. Simmons’ graduate recruitment partner Alex Brown said he believes it will depend on what the firm is doing as a whole during that time.

He added: “The vacation scheme would need to sit in line with the firm more broadly with regard to the Olympics. There may be general schemes put in place either to encourage people to work from home more or to introduce more flexible hours. We will take a decision in due course.”