Many law firms offer open days as an option for undergraduates and graduates, both from law and non-law degrees, to come into their offices and find out more about what they do.
An open day, also known as an insight day, is like a first date for you and the law firm: you’re checking each other out, hoping to make a good impression on each other and find out more about what makes the other tick!
What will you do at the open day?
Typically the day will involve an itinerary full of talks from firm partners, senior associates and the recruitment team, a guided tour around the offices, shadowing opportunities and a group exercise or two.
There will be ample opportunity to ask questions and interact with firm representatives and trainees, who can give you an idea of what it’s like to work there.
The group exercises are designed to give you an insight into the kind of work you’d carry out as a solicitor there. You might be asked to work on a negotiating task with your peers, for example, with some guidance from the trainees.
How to apply for a law firm open day…
Law firms, particularly the big city names, tend to put on a number of days throughout the year, and will sometimes specify which year group they are open to.
First years are not left out, and some firms such as Slaughter & May, Allen & Overy, DLA Piper, Baker & McKenzie and Linklaters run days exclusively for this year group.
Unfortunately, each firm has a limited number of places for this experience each year and they inevitably attract a lot of attention.
Most firms require you to complete an online application form, which can include covering-letter style questions. This might be frustrating, but it’s all part of any law application process!
As such, there is a chance you might not be invited to an open day. You can try to avoid this by doing your background research; see why you’d like to get a glimpse into that firm in particular and let it shine through in your application.
Some firms use this stage as a first screening opportunity for new trainees. The application is, therefore, the first time the firm will “meet” you – and first impressions do count!
Though some open days take place during the spring and summer, the deadlines for application usually crop up earlier. Keep an eye on the website and make sure you don’t miss out.
What to wear?
An open day at a law firm can feel like another opportunity for a wardrobe dilemma. If you’re getting mixed messages on the dress code (the dreaded concept of ‘smart casual’) always opt for smart.
You’re heading into a working office environment, and if this really is a sort of quasi-interview for some firms (remember, you had to submit a CV and application for this experience).
Guys: go for proper shoes, smart trousers and a shirt, with a smart jumper. Pocket the tie and then, if it looks like it’s necessary, take a minute for a quick change. If you’re still not sure, you can play it safe with a suit.
Girls: a smart dress or shirt/blouse and skirt (not mini!) will do nicely.
Your aim for the day…
Make the most of it and ask questions! Get advice from trainees and the recruitment team on the application process and stock up on insider knowledge and comments about the firm from the senior representatives present that day.
Finally, keep a note of everything you pick up from the day. They could make for invaluable nuggets for any further applications to that firm!