Sep 28, 2020

Written By AllAboutLaw

What law firms expect from students

Sep 28, 2020

Written By AllAboutLaw

The Virtual Law Fair is a way for law firms to spot the best talent and future trainee solicitors. Securing a vacation scheme or training contract is a competitive process, so if you understand what firms are expecting of you, you make sure that you stand out in the crowd and impress when you meet firms at their Virtual Law Fair stand or in a one-to-one meeting.

An interest in commercial law

Commercial law is extremely different from criminal law, family law, and human rights law. Firms are expecting interested students to have a passion for business and how law firms can provide services to their clients, which are, for the most part, large multinational organisations.

Firms will be looking for students who have good business knowledge, take an interest in current affairs and wish to forge a career helping businesses solve legal problems. If you want a career in law defending suspected criminals in court similar to cases such as OJ Simpson or Making a Murderer, commercial law is not for you.


An understanding of the firm’s opportunities

You should know what opportunities a firm offer. Not all law firms have identical offerings, some have more than one vacation scheme throughout the year, whilst others offer international and client secondments to their trainee solicitors, for example.

It will not reflect well on you at all if you are hugely enthusiastic about a firm’s office in Sydney only to be told that they don’t have an office there! It’s unfair to expect graduate recruitment teams to provide basic information on their opportunities when all that information is clearly listed on their website or on their profile on

An understanding of the firm’s business

There are a lot of commercial law firms out there - just look at the number of exhibitors at the Virtual Law Fair! Each firm, however, has a unique business offering - whether this is specialist sector knowledge, a unique client roster or the number of jurisdictions in which they offer legal services.

Having a good understanding of what makes a particular law firm different or unique is crucial - be sure to read their website thoroughly and research recent transactions or cases their lawyers worked on.

Intelligent questions

Once you have considered the previous three points, you should be able to come up with some intelligent questions for the firm’s graduate recruitment team and trainee solicitors.

Questions such as “When is your training contract deadline?” is a really poor question to ask, but a question such as “What are the differences in the team structure in the Singapore office, and how does this impact the levels of responsibility a trainee has on a case?” shows much a much more nuanced understanding of the firm.

Strong academic and extracurricular achievements

A career in the legal sector is challenging and competitive. Law firms expect their applicants to have a spectacular, and sometimes flawless, academic record. This means you need to be on course for a 2.1 at university, having achieved grades of AAB (or equivalent) at A-level.

Firms are keen to hire people who have undertaken a lot of extracurricular activities and even been rewarded for their efforts. An example of this if the Duke of Edinburgh award, or being a committee member of a university law society. Don’t rely on solid academic results, you need to be doing more than just studying in order to be on a level playing field with other candidates.

Good video conferencing etiquette

The Virtual Law Fair is - obviously - taking place virtually. There will be many opportunities to interact with firms via a video conferencing platform throughout the week. Muting your microphone when you are not speaking is common courtesy.

Similarly, make sure there is as little background noise as possible along with steady positioning of your laptop or device. External headphones with a microphone tend to improve quality and reduce sound feedback.

Do not sit in front of natural or artificial light, as you will be unable to see your face.


Virtual Law Fair | Boot Camp