Posted by Ellen Goodland, Trainee Solicitor
How to impress at a law fair
It is that time of year again. No not Halloween, it’s law fair season!
Law fairs may seem as scary as Halloween but by following these top tips you’ll be able to make the most out of them and get noticed for the right reasons.
From my experience attending law fairs, it’s not just an opportunity for firms to get to know you, but your chance to really get to know a firm, its culture and values. Websites and marketing materials will only tell you so much, it is important for you to understand the firm first-hand and whether you can see yourself working there. If you decide to apply for a training contract you will then have personal and genuine reasons behind your application.
In anticipation of writing this blog, I sought the opinion from some of our other trainees about their experiences and top tips. Here’s what we have to say about the best approach.
#1 Before the law fair
Research, research, research
Hopefully this will come as no surprise, but the good news is if you get this first stage right, then that’s half the battle.
You probably won’t be able to speak to every firm in attendance, therefore to make the most out of this opportunity we suggest that you do some research beforehand. Think about some of the fundamental qualities you want for your training contract. For example, is there a particular practice area that interests you or a location you want to work in? Once you understand the basics of what you are looking for, you can start targeting firms.
You don’t want to be asking questions where the answers can be found with a quick Google search, doing research in advance avoids this. From your research make a list of specific questions you have for each firm you want to talk to, that way you have questions you genuinely want the answer to and will come across as interested and engaged.
It can be nerve-racking just walking up to the firm’s representatives and trying to impress. Preparing questions in advance may help with confidence and it should break the ice.
The people who make targeted research and use their initiative before attending law fairs always impress!
#2 On the day
Dress to impress
I am not suggesting you need to suit up, but those who turn up looking smart immediately give off a better first impression.
Go it alone
Walking around in groups is unlikely to make you stand out. Plus it is easier for the firm to get to know you, answer your specific questions and remember what you had to say by chatting one-to-one.
A smile and eye contact go a long way and give the right impression! I know that law fairs may seem intimidating but whoever is representing each firm is there to answer your questions and genuinely wants to find out more about you.
Seize the opportunity
You’ve asked the questions, now make sure you make notes of any important information you receive. It can be easy to forget and in a few months’ time, when you are completing your application forms, those notes will come in very handy. Also, be proactive – if a conversation has gone well and you feel it is appropriate, ask for business cards or about joining the mailing list to be informed of upcoming events and news.
Who doesn’t love a freebie?
Well we all do of course! But just turning up with the goal of getting as many branded pens and highlighters as possible isn’t going to get you noticed for the right reasons. Ask questions and chat, grab the freebie later.
#3 After the law fair
If you have had a really great conversation, why not follow up with a sensible and professional email? You never know, it might get forwarded onto HR. You could also follow what firms are saying on their social media accounts and start engaging with the content they are sharing.
Try to relax and be yourself. Remember, this isn’t an interview and we have all been there. It wasn’t that long ago that representatives at the law fairs were on the other side of the table trying to get noticed.
Royds Withy King will be visiting a number of university law fairs this year. Check out our Events page for more details.
Keeping you informed about Careers news, events and opinion.