Article written by Leah Minett, Birkbeck University, LLB Law.
Insight days are day-long workshops which allow students to visit a law firm and get an insight into what it’s like to work there. These insight days often vary from firm to firm and are sometimes referred to as workshops or open days, but generally follow the same structure. They allow students the chance to visit the firm’s offices and speak to current trainees at the firm, and are a great opportunity for networking.
Insight days at law firms are an excellent way to find out more about a firm before applying for training contracts, but more importantly, it gives you a chance to consider whether or not the firm is the right fit for you. Spending a day at a law firm allows you an insight into the firm’s culture, their practice areas, and how the business works. With the large number of firms offering training contracts, it’s important for you to be able to decide which firms best suit your needs.
One very important benefit of insight days is the endless opportunities for networking. There is often a dedicated time during the day for networking, and this will often not just be with your peers, but also with current trainees at the firm as well as the Graduate Recruitment team. This allows you the chance to speak with like-minded students that are going through the same process as you, but also gives you the opportunity to ask any questions to current trainees about what it’s like to work at the firm.
Insight days are also a great way to boost your application for a training contract – being able to write that you’ve attended the firm’s insight day shows a commitment to the firm and sets you apart from the students that have not. Similarly, the insight day will often include a talk on application tips, and any knowledge that you gain while at the firm can be used in your application. For example, if a Real Estate partner gives a talk, you could include any information he provides about the challenges that the practice area is facing within your application, to show that you have listened and taken on board the information provided.
This will vary from firm to firm, but often will start with a talk from the Graduate Recruitment team, giving an insight into the firm. It will then often be followed by a few talks from solicitors within different practice areas to give you an idea of the type of work on offer at the firm and will also often include a practical case study. They can also often include application guidance and panel discussions with current trainees. The case study exercise is always incredibly useful as it is often similar to what the firm will expect from you in an assessment centre, so having the chance to practise this before trying to get a training contract is a real bonus. Lunch will usually be included if it’s a full day event, and the insight days normally commence around 9/10am and are usually finished by around 4pm.
This will vary from firm to firm – some firms have multiple insight days to accommodate a variety of students, whereas other firms just have one day that is open to all students. For example, Baker McKenzie offers seven different open days throughout the year, catering to non-law students, LGBT+ students, people from lower income backgrounds, and students with disabilities, just to mention a few. Many firms also offer insight days that are specifically catered to first year students, to help decide whether or not a career in law is right for you. It is important to do your research on whether you are eligible to apply to an insight day at your chosen law firm.
Applications are usually open in the Autumn term but check the website for each individual law firm that you want to attend for specific dates. The application process will vary from firm to firm, but often includes your personal details, education, work experience, and a few questions, including why you wish to attend the open day. It’s important to really set yourself apart in these questions – do not rush through them, and make sure you give detailed, insightful answers to demonstrate your knowledge of the firm. Some firms will have unlimited places for insight days, whereas others will have a very select number of spaces, so it’s essential to spend time checking your application to make sure it is as strong as it can be.
If you are unsuccessful in securing a place on an insight day at your chosen firms, it is worth looking at other events that they offer. Some firms will offer an in-person insight day as well as another online version. The online insight days are often open to a much larger number of students and will still give you a great amount of knowledge on the firm.
Regardless of the type of insight day that you attend, the information that these days provide is invaluable, and can make the difference as to whether or not you secure a training contract with a law firm, so take your time, do your research, and make sure you enjoy the day!