What to wear, what to bring, what to say and what to avoid – everything you need to make the most of the spring law fair season.
Law fairs are an opportunity to assist law students in a number of ways. Some students go in the hope of making a good impression, with the aim of being invited to open days, or to be remembered when it comes to making applications for vacation placements or training contracts. However, the more important reason is to meet representatives, often current trainees, from lots of different law firms and get a feel for which firms match your personality. After all, you will be spending a long time working with these people if you manage to secure a training contract or graduate opportunity.
A typical law fair is set up in either a large room at a university, or an exhibition or conference centre near a university. Each attending firm will have a small stand, manned by a selection of partners, recruitment managers and current trainees, set to answer any questions posed by students who approach them. As well as solicitors’ firms, there may also be representatives from careers services and recruiters, universities, the Solicitors Regulatory Association and Bar Council. Guest List – Sneak a peek at the guest list (this is usually published online prior to the event). Or head to your careers service and check out in advance which law firms will be present. Forewarned is forearmed, use the firms’ attendance list to figure out which ones you want to talk to. It’s more productive for you to know which firms you want to see and what you want to talk about.
One very important thing to consider is how to present yourself on the day. The most frequently asked questions about students attending a law fair….
What should I wear? Most firms and employers attending don’t expect you to wear a suit, but it doesn’t do any harm to look smart.
Do I take a CV with me? Most employers’ applications process is now online so it is no longer necessary however you might want to ask for advice on your CV and some graduate recruiters may be willing to offer a few tips. So it’s always worthwhile taking a few copies with you.
What questions shall I ask? Don’t ask questions for the sake of asking them. Find out what you really want to know – e.g. are the hours at Magic Circle firms really as bad as people say?
Following up after law fairs:
Once the day has passed, don’t let that be the end of it. You will have bags full of leaflets, brochures and business cards. One of the most important things is to reflect on your experience of the law fair – think about which firms impressed you and which did not. If you gave your details to any employers whilst at the fair, keep an eye out for any emails for invitations to open days or careers events. These events are nothing short of priceless. They give you a sneak preview of what a firm is really like, what they look for and how they approach recruitment.
And finally have fun! Relax and enjoy it. Despite what some careers’ websites say – the careers fair is NOT an interview.