If you’ve seen a law firm on campus, attended events organised by one, or had your firm-specific questions answered by a fellow student, it’s likely that you’ve encountered a university manager, or campus brand manager. A varied and exciting role that balances informative and events with the use of social media, being a university manager will give you your first taste of the ethos of a law firm, and allow you to develop the transferrable skills and commercial awareness needed to succeed in law.
What is a university manager?
As a university manager, you will do everything you can to raise the brand awareness of the firm, keeping your peers informed and enthused about what that firm has to offer. Law firms, with the help of their campus managers, tend to do this via events. “We rely on our university managers to spread awareness and let people know that we’re going to be around”, said Kouther Husain of Norton Rose Fulbright. “They’ll achieve this using social media and various networks within the university.”
As a university manager for Norton Rose Fulbright, you can expect to play a role organising everything from drinks receptions to law fair attendance, as well as specific events such as commercial awareness and application skills workshops.
There will also be opportunities to run your own events and put your original ideas into practice. “We also ask our university managers to run different events themselves, such as competitions and pop-ups, or socials”, said Kouther. “This is another aspect of brand management that they will be able to take ownership of.”
Bijou Dunn, the current Bristol University manager for Norton Rose Fulbright, said: “My organisation skills were truly tested to ensure all events and activities ran smoothly which extended from venue hires, to supplying the right number of branded products to meet the demand. The role is flexible, allowing me to gain experience whilst also fitting around my studies at the same time. I would highly recommend it to all.”
A “stepping stone” into law – the skills developed as a university manager
Working as a university manager is a great chance to build a positive working relationship with a law firm from an early point in your degree. “This position has enabled me to start building relationships with the graduate recruitment team, trainees and partners and gain a deeper understanding into how a law firm operates”, said Bijou.
But the role itself also builds the essential skills needed as you plan your career. “University managers will be in charge of running different events, marketing the firm, and helping to raise brand awareness”, said Kouther. “A lot of these things are competencies that can be used no matter what career they want to pursue afterwards and no matter what subject they are currently studying.A lot of university managers will be interested in a career in law, but obviously students can come from a law or non-law background.”
Norton Rose Fulbright’s university managers gain a unique insight into how the firm works, and will be responsible for communicating the brand both online and in person. This offers ample opportunity for the managers to build their commercial awareness, experiencing first-hand how a top law firm presents itself to prospective trainees. “They will deduce how best to market the brand; they will be representing the firm in all interactions they have with people, so an awareness of the firm and the ability to answer questions about it are essential”, said Kouther. “All of these activities build on the skills that we look for when we recruit for potential trainees.”
Alongside boosting your commercial awareness, acting as a university manager will also boost your leadership skills as well as enabling you to work in a team. “Being a university manager has provided me with a diverse array of vital skills that are highly transferable as a trainee, said Bijou. “Having the responsibility to help run the Norton Rose Fulbright drinks reception was one noteworthy event that truly tested all that I had learnt from the role.”
Bijou also reflected on the community feel generated amongst the brand ambassadors on campus: “Often, myself and the other brand ambassadors would work together which meant there was an active community created between us to share the different workings and structures of how law works in the real world.”
In developing this wide skillset, university managers will be able to give themselves an edge when applying for post-university opportunities. “Nowadays, the graduate market is quite tough. It is not just about the grades but also about showing that you are able to go above and beyond your degree”, Kouther explained.
“University managers can go on to use these skills when applying for vacation schemes, graduate schemes, training contracts, and other post-university options”.
Do you have what it takes?
It’s no secret that law is a competitive industry to enter, and to represent a law firm on campus you will need to have a varied skillset in order to carry out the role.
“Communication is a really big part of it – you will have to be good at networking to help to raise the brand awareness of the firm”, said Kouther. “This is a skill that can be developed whilst participating in lots of different societies or events.
Your ability to communicate and network should be combined with enthusiasm. Bijou said: “Posting on the relevant social media platforms, lecture shout outs and face to face contact to promote events means that being enthusiastic and proactive is a must for this role.”
A large component of the role is promoting the firm online, so university managers will need to be tech-savvy and be a good judge of what makes a social media post engaging. Kouther said: “Can they balance language and image content effectively? They need to ensure that the tone they use is engaging whilst appropriate. It’s a case of attracting the student population whilst still being professional.
“We also need them to be organised, and keep on top of things – we understand that they will have their commitments at university degree-wise, and they probably will be involved in lots of other extracurricular activities, but we will need them to be responsive to emails and keep us updated on their work.”
The first step in a law career?
By getting to know how a firm like Norton Rose Fulbright works, and by developing skills that directly tie in with trainee work, university managers will put themselves in good stead to progress into the legal sector. “Part of the university manager opportunity is about finding the people who can handle the dynamic nature of trainee work”, said Kouther. “We like to see applicants who have developed their skills, so that, when challenges arise, they are better equipped to deal with them and be proactive problem solvers. The university manager role is just another way to develop those skills”.
To find out more about Norton Rose Fulbright’s University manager roles, please visit their website.