Postgraduate Conferences: Forward Thinking for Future Lawyers

Postgraduate Conferences: Forward Thinking for Future Lawyers

Postgraduate conferences are seen as an opportunity for current students, professors, leading experts and graduates to join together and share their common legal interests. It is an ideal way to promote high standards of legal research and foster interest amongst students of higher and further education. In addition to socialising with colleagues from other institutions, the two main reasons to attend a conference are to hear presentations and to converse with other researchers.

…the two main reasons to attend a conference are to hear presentations and to converse with other researchers.

I recently attended the Fourth Annual Maritime Law and Policy Postgraduate Research Conference 2013 held by the City Law School in London. There were a number of PhD candidate students and professionals who presented their research on different maritime law and policy issues. The London Universities Maritime Law and Policy Research Group is a not-for-profit collaborative network of London academic institutions with research interests in maritime law and policy. Their central aim is to provide a network of mutual support and a forum for the exchange and promotion of its interests, whilst also encouraging collaboration in maritime law and policy research in London and elsewhere. Having completed a Masters degree in maritime law myself, this conference widened my knowledge on several issues and provided me with valuable contacts for the future.

As part of the audience and not having to present at the conference, the only nerve-racking experiences were the daunting short breaks during the day where networking was definitely required. Networking is an important skill which needs to be developed and, once acquired, it can be used as a tool to help obtain new contacts in the legal field. It allows for the expansion of commercial awareness and distinguishes your personal abilities from the crowd. This is an important skill — not just for attending conferences, but in general situations as well. There is not a secret formula to it, although what appears to be a prerequisite is the ability to believe in yourself and your aspirations. The objective is to make a good impression and, under the framework of a conference, it is most likely that you will come across someone who will be able to give you advice on your next step or help you in your future career.

As the day progressed the idea of socialising during the breaks began to feel easier and less frightening. It is always an advantage to network at a conference in which you are familiar with the topic, as you are able to provide your own legal opinion without the fear of sounding irrelevant.

Networking is an important skill which needs to be developed…

Attending a conference is a professionally rewarding experience. Listening to presentations will inform you of what others are doing and will expose you to different styles of presentation (and may also inspire research ideas of your own). It is incredible to witness a collection of presentations by innovative minds that convey their research with clarity and interest. The human interaction of examining these issues at conferences helps you to find additional information on how to do things a little differently and where to find resources to help learn something new.

In addition, it must not be forgotten that this is an exclusive opportunity to discuss the best practices within the industry and to gain a diverse set of perspectives for further advancement in the field. These conferences do not just educate the researchers themselves, but also contribute to forward thinking for future lawyers. Commercially, it is important to bear in mind that the industry and the practice itself should work alongside the academic and research field, in order to provide a structure for the legal business to operate with cohesion and certainty.

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