As much as we all love freebies, attending a law fair shouldn’t be about acquiring as many pens emblazoned with a law firm logo as you can. Going to a law fair should primarily be about meeting potential employers face-to-face. They are an excellent opportunity to network and present yourself in a professional manner to recruiters.
What are law fairs?
Law fairs are specialist careers fairs that allow students to discover more about the legal profession, whether that be as a solicitor or a barrister.
A law fair will most likely take place in universities and conference halls during the autumn term. Make a note beforehand which fairs are open to you because some are only open to students from a specific university. Law firms, barristers’ chambers and other organisations set up stands and bring representatives along who will talk to attendees about their organisation, and the various opportunities they have on offer for students and graduates.
Law fairs allow students to chat informally with trainees, associates, partners and graduate recruiters. They are a great chance to find out more about the different law firms and chambers, their culture and areas of expertise. Most companies will bring along company literature for you to read following the event. Sometimes, lawyers’ networking groups such as the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) and the Young Legal Aid Lawyers Group will attend to offer advice and recommendations. Some law fairs may even include talks, presentations and CV workshops, which are definitely worth attending.
Hopefully, attending a law fair will inform the possible direction you want your own career to take.
Why should I go to a law fair?
Law fairs are a great way of getting to know the different employers in your chosen industry. Students who use law fairs effectively might have a higher success rate of getting through to the later stages of the training contract and vacation scheme application process. They are also great places to hone your networking skills.
Don’t underestimate the value of personal contact with law firm representatives. It’s a great way to get an insight into life in the industry, to ask any questions you may have, to learn more about their company culture and to find out what they expect from job applications.
Meeting a representative will give you a better sense of whether the law firm/chambers/company is right for you and, of course, it’s also a chance to find out more about the training contracts, mini-pupillages or vacation schemes they offer. It might even be a chance to secure work experience with a law firm.
I’m not in my final year yet. Can I still go to law fairs?
Law fairs aren’t just for finalists. They are an excellent way to obtain information about different careers, companies and work experience opportunities. It’s never too early to go to a career fair, particularly since they might offer some tips and recommendations, like any extra-curricular activities that add to your training-contract or vacation-scheme applications.
Also, it’s important to keep an open mind; don’t just head straight to the big-name law firms and chambers. While you will have your “hit list” of stalls you want to visit, it’s also worth checking out other organisations that you might not have previously considered.
How to prepare for a law fair
Although a law fair is designed to facilitate informal chats with various law firms, it’s important to remember that first impressions count. It’s highly recommended to check beforehand which firms will be present at the fair, and conduct some initial research to gather information on the firms’ focus and speciality. This will help you formulate questions to ask the firms on the day of the fair, so you arrive prepared and ready to network.
If you’re initially feeling slightly nervous and intimidated, it might be worth speaking with a firm you’re not too keen on first. Once you build up your confidence, you can then move on to firms you really care about.
We recommend that you bring along your CV. Most firms strongly oppose accepting CVs at a law fair due to their rigorous online application process for vacation schemes and training contracts. However, if the subject does come up in conversation, it’s useful to have a copy in your bag.
Where can I find these careers fairs?
In order to find out when and where the law fairs will be hosted, your first point of call should be with the university careers advice service and your law society. More often than not, you can subscribe to their newsletter for updates and important dates, to be the first in the know about any relevant information and to secure your space at the fair. You may also find the firms themselves are likely to publicise their attendance at various law fairs on social media. Staying in the loop and keeping up to date with your law society should ensure you’re able to get the relevant dates for your diary.
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