Clifford Chance will run its 2020 summer vacation scheme as a virtual event, in response to the current coronavirus pandemic.

The virtual scheme will take place from Wednesday to Friday, 1-3 July and will comprise three days – instead of the traditional two weeks – of virtual learning by using external platform InsideSherpa, which was also selected by Linklaters for its first online legal internship and by firms including Baker McKenzie and White & Case.

The scheme will include an optional two-day work shadowing experience in December, with the possibility of being summoned for a training contract interview afterwards.

The decision to switch the vacation scheme to a virtual environment was taken in the past two weeks, as the graduate recruitment team was busy with contingency plans to reduce the impact of the situation on its initiatives.

The firm is designing virtual webinars and pre-recorded sessions, with a focus on corporate practice-related training and the possibility of working on a case study. The virtual experience will include video diaries and spaces for online self reflection exercises. The firms asked interns on feedback on how best to design the sessions.

Participants will have the opportunity to get to know each other through a ‘Russian Roulette speed-dating system’. In addition to the traditional training there will be also leisure activities such as yoga and cooking classes. While most of the in-person training can be translated online, the firm won’t be able to organise the trips to international offices that were done in previous years due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The graduate team behind the virtual scheme reckons that interacting with candidates will increase the amount of data that can be used in the assessment phase of the programme. “Using a virtual platform gives more objective data points, such as the number of log-ins and information on who is active online,” says Aishling Morris, a recruitment specialist at the firm.

The vacation scheme will also keep its remuneration standard of £450.

The firm’s head of graduate talent Laura Yeates added that the start date of the firm’s recently-launched internship programme LIFT, which will see Clifford Chance arrange placements at several companies that are participating in the programme, is likely to be pushed to later this summer.

The firm is currently reviewing its options when it comes to the upcoming training contract later this year.