Law fairs are a great opportunity to find out more about the firms you are interested in, but also an opportunity to show them the qualities you have to offer too. Georgia shares her top tips for how you can stand out at a law fair.
Law fairs are useful events for all prospective lawyers - whether you are seeking a vacation scheme or training contract, there are very few opportunities like this where you'll find lots of different law firms and training providers all together in one room.
Law fair events are one of the few occasions where you can talk to people from many different firms, and at different levels in the firm, and this could be just the opportunity you need to give you career a boost.
So here are my top tips to help you make the most of it, stand out from the crowd, and impress the law fair representatives.
Before you attend the law fair, do your research. Ask your university for a list of who will be attending the law fair and narrow down who you want to speak to. Once you have decided which firms you would like to target, research them - what areas of law do they practice in? Where are their offices located? And what is their growth strategy? Have a look on the firm's website, graduate recruitment pages and social media to find out as much about them as you can. You might even be able to find out who from the firm is attending, and you can learn more about them online too.
Jot down the information you learn into a notebook, and take this with you on the day, so you can refer back to it.
Some firms (but not all) may be happy to take a copy of your CV from you at the event, so you can prepare by printing off a few copies to take with you.
Shoosmiths ask you to join their mailing list if you are interested in finding out more information about the firm. You will sign up using a short form on n iPad, and you will receive emails about application opening dates and deadlines, useful careers advice, and event details - you can unsubscribe at any time.
It's not a requirement to wear a suit to a law fair, but think about the first impression you'd like to make when you meet people who you might be working with in the future. At Shoosmiths we aren't expected to wear ties and jackets in the office, and we enjoy a dress-down Friday every week, but our dress-code is still "business", and you'll see this reflected in the what the Shoosmiths representatives are wearing on the day.
Once you've decided which firms you want to target and you've done some research about them, it's a good idea to have a few questions prepared ready to ask. Some stands may be quite busy at law fairs and you'll find representatives are tied up in conversations, but don't be afraid to join a conversation, or wait a few minutes if you have time. The stands can sometimes be intimidating, but be confident to approach the representatives to start up a conversation.
Law firms are usually attended by the graduate recruitment team and current trainees so, if possible, try to target your questions appropriately. The trainees will be able to answer more practical questions about the training contract, whereas graduate recruitment may be better placed to answer questions about the application process. Once you've started a conversation, ask questions about things you couldn't find the answers for elsewhere and use the opportunity to really learn about the things that matter to you. Does the firm offer client secondments? What are the working hours like? How much support do trainees receive?
Refer to the notes you made before the event, ask any questions you jotted down, and take notes when your question is answered. It's impressive, because it shows your commitment to the firm.
I always tried to ask questions about what life was like day to day, or in different teams. Questions about the induction process and the type of training and support you can expect will also throw up some interesting answers which can help you to decide whether the firm's culture is for you.
After the law fair, take the time to review the information you have been provided with. Which are your preferred law firms? Did the people you met reflect the culture you read about? If you haven't already, follow the firms you are interested in on social media and engage with them on this platform. Make connections on LinkedIn with the people you spoke to, and take the opportunity to ask any questions you may have thought of following the law fair. If anyone gave you their contact details follow up with an email thanking them for their time answering your questions, mention something unique that you spoke about so they remember you - you would be surprised how something as small as this will help get you noticed with firms! Equally, if you are later invited to a firm's vacation scheme, inform your contact with an email to let them know and start building your career networks early on.
I hope these tips help you to get the most from the law fairs you attend this year, and you leave with a clearer and more informed view of where you would like to train and practice in the future.
Overall my advice is to relax, be confident and enjoy the law fair, and remember that while you have to be a good fit for the law firm, the law firm also needs to be a good fit for you.
If you're thinking about attending a law fair this year, you may also be interested in reading "How to make the most of law fairs" by Emma Cartledge-Taylor, or "5 tips for making the most of a law fair" or watching our latest ShoosmithsLIVE video.
If you have any specific questions, you can contact the graduate recruitment team via twitter or email.
Click here to read more posts with advice about standing out from the competition on the Shoosmiths careers blog.