Article written by Imaan Fatima, University of Strathclyde Scots and English LLB Student.
I’m sure that you, like me, have heard countless times that law fairs are extremely beneficial to kickstarting your legal career. I remember attending my first law fair two years ago not knowing what questions to ask or how to make a positive and lasting impression. Whether you’re attending an in person or virtual law fair, it is crucial to have a plan as to how you are going to handle the event. Here is some advice that has helped me improve my approach to law fairs and I hope you will find it just as useful.
Law fairs take place throughout the year and are attended by a large number of law firms and educators. It will be near impossible to speak to everyone, so you need to decide beforehand who you really want to hear from. Do your research and review which firms you see as potential future employers. Visit their websites and graduate recruitment pages, browse their social media, and read about them on websites such as Legal Cheek, Chambers Student, Legal 500 and more.
You should have a basic understanding of the firm’s recruitment processes, practice areas, geographical reach, and training structure. It might also help to know some additional information about the firm, such as its pro bono opportunities, diversity and inclusion committees, and corporate social responsibility.
This research will put you in the best position to make a positive impression at a law fair, portraying you as someone who is committed to the legal profession. Also, it may serve as a point of reflection, helping you think about why you’re attending the fair in the first place and what you hope to gain from a legal career.
With the ‘new normal’ and virtual events, it can be tempting to attend a law fair in the comfort of your PJs. But putting on a clean shirt and looking alert is really the first step to making a professional impression. Online fairs are just as important as in person events and should be treated as such. Keep your camera on, use good lighting, dress the part, maintain eye contact and smile!
Law fairs are your chance to speak directly to the firms you are interested in and to gather information that’ll help with your career choices. You don’t need to ask the most out-of-the-box questions to impress those attending. Likewise, asking very broad or generic questions isn’t the best use of anyone’s time. It is best to steer clear of questions that can easily be found on the firm’s website or answered with a quick email to graduate recruitment.
Instead, try to ask insightful questions that will help strengthen your application. Do you want to learn more about the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives? Are you interested in a certain practice area and the type of work it involves? Would you like to gain a better understanding of a trainee solicitor’s role? Asking meaningful questions will make you more likely to stand out.
You will learn lots of useful information at law fairs, but unless you have the memory of a dolphin you won’t remember it all. Actively listen to what people are saying and write down the key points in a notebook. Not only will you be able to refer to this later when completing applications, but it will also demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in what is being said.
Throughout the event, people may have provided their contact details or offered to connect on LinkedIn. Responding to these invitations and reaching out after the law fair is crucial and shows you’re enthusiastic and appreciative. Sending a short ‘thank you’ message on LinkedIn and mentioning something you learned is quick and easy to do. Moreover, building connections like this can also be helpful if you think of any other questions that you didn’t get the chance to ask earlier.
When applying to future events, make use of the information you learned at the fair. For example, if you’re applying for an open day with a particular firm, mention how you met an associate at a law fair and had a conversation about a recent deal they worked on. This will definitely portray you as someone who is committed to the firm.
From my experience, law fairs are what you make of them. Approaching it with enthusiasm, purpose and confidence will help you learn something new, make a positive impression and might even help you get your foot in the door. Above all, try to relax and enjoy yourself!