Law firm open day application process
Applying to attend a law firm open day is a competitive process. Not everyone will be offered a place. In this article, we will look at how to apply, when to apply, and how to prepare for a law firm open day.
How to apply for a law firm open day
The application process varies from firm to firm. However, the first thing to check for every open day is your eligibility.
Law firms may run open days for specific groups – first-year law undergraduates, non-law students, LGBTQ+ applicants etc. Do not waste your time applying for an open day that you cannot attend.
Next, you need to research the application requirements. Some firms require applicants to submit an email expressing their interest, others require applicants to submit an application form.
The application form tends to be a simplified version of the vacation scheme or training contract application form. Applicants may be asked to provide details about their education and/or work experience, as well answer a few motivational or strength-based questions.
Typically, firms will ask students why they want to attend the open day. It is important to demonstrate your interest in the firm, but also your communication skills.
Your answer should be well-researched and structured, and not contain any typos. Importantly, it should show your personal motivations for wanting to attend the open day at that firm. Providing a generic answer that could be copied and pasted into any application form for any firm is a surefire way to get a rejection.
You may also be asked other questions, such as a commercial awareness question or a question about your extra-curricular activities. Before answering the question, think about what the firm is trying to assess. Is it testing your legal or commercial knowledge? Does it want to learn about your personality? Is it assessing your core values?
And remember, always relate the answer back to the firm. How do your hobbies or interests match the social activities or pro bono work offered by the firm? How does your work experience relate to a deal the firm has advised on? How are your personal values aligned with the firm’s values?
Unlike for the vacation scheme or training contract application, there is not usually a follow-up video interview or psychometric test involved with the open day application process. That is why it is important to make your application shine. If you can, it is worthwhile asking a close friend or family member (with a keen eye for detail) to read over the application before you submit it to sense and spell-check it.
When to apply for a law firm open day
As with vacation scheme and training contract applications, it is not a good idea to leave your application to the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to research the firm, write your answers, and review your application.
Some firms may offer places for the open day on a rolling basis, another reason not to submit your application 10 minutes before the deadline!
Law firms run open days throughout the year and usually advertise them on their social media pages and website. So, make sure you are following any firms you are interested in on social media.
You can also check out our website for upcoming open day opportunities.
How to prepare for a law firm open day
If you are selected to attend an open day, first of all, give yourself a pat on the back! The application process is competitive, so being selected to attend is an achievement in and of itself. And it shows that the firm is interested in you.
Once you have celebrated your victory, it is time to knuckle down and prepare for the open day. You have secured a unique opportunity to learn about the firm, make sure you exploit it.
Hopefully, you will already have done some research into the firm as part of the application process. For the open day, you should build on your knowledge of the firm’s core practice areas, pro bono work, and D&I initiatives.
Try to expand your research resources beyond the firm’s website - listen to the firm’s podcast, set up a Google Alert, read the legal press, follow the firm on social media. There are endless resources at your fingertips.
If you are told in advance about any staff members that you will meet, do research into their backgrounds. What deals have they worked on? Are they from a law or non-law background? Have they always worked at the firm, or have they moved firm? Are they involved in any of the firm’s pro bono work or D&I initiatives? If the person has any personal or professional experiences that you can relate to, draw on these (if appropriate) in your questions.
It is important to demonstrate an interest in the firm beyond superficial research. Building a bank of well-researched, thought-provoking questions can help you stand out on the day and give you unique insights into the firm that you wouldn’t have otherwise known.
If you are sent the open day agenda in advance, try to prepare at least three questions for each session. There is always a possibility that someone else will ask your question!
And make sure to take intelligible notes throughout the day of the things you learn and the people you meet. This will stand you in good stead when it comes to your vacation scheme or training contract application.
It is also worth looking at the firm’s vacation scheme or training contract application forms in advance of the open day to see if there are any questions you would struggle to answer. You can use the open day to help you answer those tricky questions.
How to dress and behave on an open day
Swotting up for the open day is only half the battle. You also need to look and act the part.
Whether the open day is physical or virtual, it is important that you maintain an air of professionalism. This means dressing in business attire and, if you’re attending from home, not just from the waist up!
For virtual open days, make sure that your background is tidy, that your room is well lit, and that you are not going to be interrupted – stick a “do not disturb” post-it on the door for your roommates.
Maintaining professionalism also means being friendly, polite, and enthusiastic. Show an interest in everyone – not just the partners!
Try to ask a question at each session, but do not cut over other attendees. It is better not to ask a question than to come across as rude or disruptive.
While the open day is not usually assessed, you should always strive to make a positive first impression, especially as an open day may be the stepping-stone to securing a training contract with the firm.
The open day is not an automatic gateway to a vacation scheme or training contract offer. However, if you prepare in advance and perform on the day, it can give you the insights to turn a run-of-the-mill application into a one-of-a-kind application.
Law Firm Open Days