Posted by Lydia Excell, Trainee Solicitor
Trainees’ five top tips for attending a law fair
The first time I crossed paths with Royds Withy King was while attending my university law fair as an undergraduate. First impressions count and this encounter lead to me later securing a paralegal role with the firm. I am now a trainee and offering to share my top tips for attending a law fair.
November is here and for law students that means the month of the law fairs. I have sat on both sides of the law fair fence having attended many during my years as a student speaking with potential firms and now in my role as Trainee Solicitor with my colleagues at Royds Withy King advising prospective new trainees. There are no secrets, but here are my five top tips for attending a law fair:
1. Do your research
This might scream obvious to you and if it does I am relieved. You have probably heard this one time and time again but I can’t stress it enough, know something about the firm before you rock up for a chat. You don’t have to know the firm’s full history, mergers and all, but some current knowledge will take you a long way.
I would suggest looking up recent articles and reports on the firm’s website and following them on Twitter to get a feel for what’s hot and driving that firm. This will also give you a good indication of whether it is the type of firm for you. I signed up for Royds Withy King’s news letters by email and followed what seminars they were running to get an idea of what their main focus was at the time of applying. This will give you a little bit of taste of the things you could talk about and strike up a conversation, even if it’s to admire our culinary skills from our recent bake off tweets!
2. Interview us
Sounds like an odd one but many students fear law fairs because it feels like one big intimidating interview where you say one wrong thing and get a black mark against your name where that firm will reject your application at the sight of your name. At Royds Withy King this is certainly not the case, we are not there to interview or intimidate you. Use this as an opportunity to interview us and if you have done your research you will have plenty of questions at the tip of your tongue (or written on your note pad if you’re worried you might forget them!)
It is also important to get answers to your questions because choosing the right firm for you is incredibly important. The place you want to train should be the place you want to carry out your legal career. If you don’t have a good feel for that firm you could end up applying to somewhere that is totally unsuited to your work ethic and aspirations. Not everyone can get work experience with their firm of choice so the law fair is the next best thing to getting real life experience from their trainees and HR team.
3. Break the nerves
I know it’s easier said than done, we have all felt nervous, but if you can try and shake off the nerves before you go in then the conversation will flow so much better and you will get far more out of the experience. My suggestion would be to practice your route around the law fair before you go. Most Universities release the list of law firms attending and a floor map before hand so plan where you want to go, who you want to speak to and what you want to say. This way the planning is done and you will feel more prepared and ready to hit the ground running when you’re there, as opposed to lurking around corridors and doorways pondering about whether to go and speak to a firm. Equally,oozing confidence is great but we all know there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness, know the limit.
We all love them, I particularly like the firms that hand out sweets, but just picking up the freebies and leaflets is only a waste of your time. Any information you swipe from the table will no doubt be information you could have obtained from staying at home in your pyjamas whilst browsing firms websites on your laptop. By all means help yourself to our branded gadgets but first you probably want to cover points 1, 2 and 3 of my blog. If all goes well you may even be leaving with an additional freebie, a business card.
5. Follow up
If you have a successful law fair experience and leave with new contacts from your conversations with trainees and HR teams then be sure to follow these up. For one it’s polite but importantly it could be that key link that helps us remember you and give you the opportunity to keep in contact throughout the application process.
My final point will be a plea to all prospective trainees to never underestimate a law fair and make the most out of every opportunity. You never know, the firm you are talking to might also be looking for current paralegals to join their firm and your encounter could be that opening to the next step in your legal career.
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We will be attending several careers events this year. For more details, visit our Events page.
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