Erin Sculthorpe

  • Position: Trainee
  • Division: Corporate Finance

I am a first year trainee sitting in the Corporate Finance division at Burness Paull’s Edinburgh office.  During the summer of my third year at university I undertook a six week summer placement at Burness Paull’s Aberdeen office.  I really enjoyed the summer placement and definitely gained a lot from the experience.  Doing a summer placement is an excellent way to gain insight into a legal firm and can help you make the right decision about which law firm you would like to train with.

The summer placement at Burness Paull is structured like a mini-traineeship, with two different seats.  I spent the first 3 weeks in the Employment division which I really loved.  I was surprised at the amount of effort the team put in to ensure that I got involved in meaningful work and had a great experience.  I got to draft legal documents, attend a tribunal hearing and even help out with a corporate presentation. 

My second seat was in the Corporate Finance division which was of a very different nature to my first seat.  It was great to see the difference between contentious and transactional practice.  In Corporate Finance I spent a lot of time looking at different styles of contracts and got to experience a few days in the Exploration and Production department.  This is where the legal skills I had learnt at university really started to come in handy - attention to detail!! 

The summer placement at Burness Paull is a great way to get to know people at the firm.  I was invited to social events with both the Employment team and the Corporate Finance team as well as attending whole firm events such as boardroom drinks and the annual Summer BBQ.  Getting to know the trainees and having lunch with them daily meant that when I started my traineeship last September there were lots of recognisable friendly faces around the office.

It’s really important to make the most of your summer placement experience so I’ve provided my three top tips to help you with this:


  1. Be yourself

    It may sound simple but being yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a summer student.  Burness Paull is an extremely friendly, sociable and supportive firm and people will like you for you.  Be confident in yourself and your ability, you’ve been accepted onto the scheme for a reason!  Relax and enjoy your placement by socialising and making friends with your new colleagues because it’ll be over far too quickly!

  2. Always have a notepad handy

    People will often stop by your desk or quickly pull you into a room to explain something and if you don’t have a notepad handy there’s a good chance that you won’t remember more than 10% of what has been said.  It’s also really helpful to keep a to-do list written down as it means that you have a record of the tasks you have been asked to complete and it’ll be easier to prioritise (and score things out when they’re done).  It’s really great to ask questions but people won’t love it if you ask questions to which you’ve already been told the answer.  This is a great habit to develop as a summer student and take with you all the way into the traineeship.

  3. Stay enthusiastic

    Showing enthusiasm and willingness to learn is the best way to come off well during your summer placement.  You may not be expected to know as much as a qualified lawyer but you will be expected to want to learn.  Keep an open mind, even if you end up in a department you aren’t necessarily interested in – you never know, it might surprise you. Stay positive and demonstrate that you are interested in the work you have been given. Always put in the effort, even if the task seems menial, people will recognise you for the contribution you have made. And don’t be afraid to ask for more work, there will always be something you can help with!



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