Attend every year
Law fairs aren’t just for those about to graduate or on the hunt for training contracts. It’s never too early to start attending—even if you don’t land any work experience or shadowing opportunities (more on that later), attending a law fair in your first year will give you experience of the event and allow you to brush up on your approach in the following years.
Prepare for the law fair
It’s important to research before attending a law fair—and by research we don’t mean checking out which firms offer the most lucrative salary. Rather, you should check out which firms specialise in the areas of law you’re interested in. You won’t be able to speak to all of them on the day, so learn some basics about the firms you’re interested in and have a few questions prepared.
You should also decide what time you plan to get to the law fair. As Rebecca Morgan, law graduate and blogger at Lawyer in the Making, tells us: “It is always worth getting there a bit early to see where the stands you want to visit are situated. On the other hand, as the day progresses, stands will get less busy and you may have a better opportunity to talk to people.”
Speak to a variety of firms
When you’re at the fair, make sure you actually speak to firms—don’t just pick up the freebies and leaflets and leave. According to Morgan, if you do that, “you will only be finding out the same information regarding work experience, graduate schemes and law careers as anyone else with access to their website”.
Take advantage of the fact that you have the firm representatives in front of you, and ask them about how they got to where they are in the company now or about any work experience. Try not to ask questions that are too silly, or to come across as too arrogant. Likewise, shyness will not make a great impression—leave it at the door!
And while you’re there, speak to a variety of firms, not just Magic Circle or City firms. There will almost certainly be firms there you haven’t heard of before, and it could also be the case that once you learn more about a firm you set your sights on—their culture and the direction your career could take—you become less keen on pursuing a career with them.
Hand out CVs and make notes
It’s not only law firms that should be handing things out at law fairs—you can give out your own freebies too. There’s nothing to lose with handing out your CV and everything to gain. You could get a week’s legal work experience or you could potentially even shadow a solicitor. When you hand out your CV, make sure to pick up a business card and follow up a week or so later.
Additionally, you should take a notebook. Fairs aren’t just about sweet-talking potential employers. There may also be talks, presentations and workshops, so having pen and paper handy is useful for obvious reasons.
You might want to jot down the name or contact details of someone you’ve spoken to at the fair. Ask them if they’d be happy to be contacted through LinkedIn, for example. “If you were to be offered a vacation schemes at a later date after the fair,” Morgan advises, “you could then do a bit of networking and contact the person you spoke with to let them know.”
How to dress for a law fair
We’re not suggesting you should suit up, but when we spoke to a graduate recruiter, they recommended dressing relatively smart so you don’t give the wrong impression.
When applying to work experience or a training contract, don’t forget to tell a firm that you spoke with them at a law fair and that this prompted you to research the firm further and apply. This will help you build up an application that’s better tailored for them.
Law firms are a must for all who want to follow a career in law. We understand they can be a little daunting, but firms are there to catch your attention just as much as you’re aiming to catch theirs. Be yourself—enthusiastic, intelligent and hard-working!
Next article: A day at the law fair: from start to finish