The Law Fair is one of my favourite events of the academic year (yes, I know, but I love it!) Not only is it a great opportunity to grab some wonderful freebies (a year’s worth of post its, pens and the occasional portable phone charger!) but it is also one of the best ways to network with representatives of law firms and learn a lot about what they offer. Below are my top tips for making the most of the law fair.
Prepare for the law fair
Yes, I know, there is a lot going on at the start of semester. The law fair is upon you before you’ve really got your bearings (or bought your books, probably.) However, it is really worth spending a bit of time preparing for the law fair. It will normally be advertised a few weeks in advance with those firms attending. Spend a little time researching firms. Where are their offices? What are their practice areas? What do they offer in terms of training contracts, vacation schemes and other work experience opportunities? Of course, the firms are there to answer all of these questions, but it is impressive if you have done a little of your own research, and also helps you prepare some questions for the firms.
Once you have done some research in to the firms, try to think of the questions you will want to ask them. Maybe you want more information about the available seats on the training contract, or you want to know about the opportunities for advancement within the firm. The law fair is the perfect opportunity to ask these questions, and will allow you to start to work out who you want to apply to. Remember, it is impossible to apply to them all and hope for the best. If you have a good idea of what the firm offers, then you will know if they are the type of firm you want to apply to. It will also give you an advantage when filling out applications if you have spent a bit of time with the representatives of the firms and know a bit about what they are looking for from you.
What do YOU need to know?
Law firms are always happy to meet students at any stage of their degree. It is never too early to start meeting representatives of the law firms and finding out what they offer. However, it is important that you keep in mind what stage of the degree you are at. For example, while information on training contract deadlines for the year ahead is highly relevant to a penultimate year student, it will not be of much help to those in first year. By contrast, those in first or second year will want to know of any work experience opportunities available to them in the coming year. There is nothing more frustrating as a first year student than walking out of a law fair with information on the traineeships offered by every firm, but realising you forgot to ask if the firms offered an insight day for first and second years! By preparing with a list of questions, this can be avoided and you can ensure you have all of the relevant information you need.
Speak to everyone
Try to keep an open mind about the law firms in attendance. You may have read a firm’s profile and decided that it didn’t sound quite right – chat with them anyway! There is only so much information that a website can hold. Chatting to the representatives of the firm will give you a much better idea of what is involved. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns – they will be able to answer them honestly and help you to decide if you were right about the firm not being the right fit for you. Hopefully there will be a current trainee in attendance. Spend some time with them to find out what the traineeship is really like – ask what the good parts and the bad parts are! And don’t forget to find out about the social aspects of the firm – you want to leave knowing as much as you possibly can.
Don’t go empty handed
Take a few updated copies of your CV with you, some firms may be willing to take them from you. The attendees will normally include a member of the graduate recruitment team. If you make a good impression, it is handy for them to have a copy of your CV to take away. You never know, it may just result in an invitation to an interview or assessment centre.
You should also take your diary or a notebook along with you. Make a note of all the important dates and deadlines. There is a lot going on at the law fair and it can be a little overwhelming. Writing everything down ensures you don’t forget anything later on when you are starting your applications.
Smile and be enthusiastic! The representatives will almost always include members of the graduate recruitment team – they may be a key part of the recruitment process and you may even meet them again at the interview stage! It pays to make a good impression at this point. And enjoy the experience. It is very rare that you will have the opportunity to chat with so many representatives from law firms in one place – make the most of it.