Starting or running a law society is no easy task. Here, Imogen Canavan, President of Kent Student Law Society, divulges her top tips on how to run a successful law society.
1. Motivate your committee
The key to running a successful law society is to engage with your committee members and to keep them motivated. It is a good idea to spend time together, if possible, getting to know each other before the academic term starts. If you are in different countries, you can Skype each other to start discussing your ideas. An online forum is ideal to maintain the momentum of discussion throughout the year.
2. Organise your time
Plan as far ahead as you can! Find out the deadlines for funding applications, competitions and careers fairs. Create your own calendar so that your committee members and student members can organise their time around your schedule. Be realistic! The students in your law society are doing a law degree and much of their time will be taken up studying. If you plan too many events then this will affect your attendance. Remember, you must also have the finances to support your events. Once you have a provisional calendar, you should contact other big societies and your Law School/Careers Service to make sure your dates don’t clash.
3. Weekly meetings
Your committee should meet on a weekly basis. It is important that the meetings are chaired and minutes are taken. There should be some rules at the meetings to ensure that the meetings are fair: for example, that you are a democratic society and your committee members will vote on contentious issues. You may wish to include these in your constitution.
4. Recruit members
Contact your Students’ Union to find out if there is a societies’ fair. This is a great way to get students to sign up. You should plan whether you have the budget to print flyers and buy freebies and merchandise. An attractive stand at your societies’ fair will help with your sign ups! When you are deciding how to allocate your budget, you should check well in advance the procedures required to access your money.
A great way of recruiting members to your law society is to attend the introductory lectures for all stages to introduce yourselves and explain how to sign up to your mailing list. It is essential that you do this as soon as term starts to get the ball rolling.
5. Advertise your events
Once you have set dates for events, you will need to advertise them. You could use posters, flyers, lecture shout outs, videos, emails and social media. Make your advertisements attractive and informative. Effective advertising is important; people will only know about your events if you tell them.
6. Network in your university and community
Law societies are geared towards particular professions and you should be familiar with local practitioners and alumni. Contact local firms and organisations, including the Law Society, to discuss sponsorship and/or event opportunities. You should also work with other societies, university departments and careers schemes in your area. It’s worth contacting law societies at other universities with whom you may be able to organise events!
7. Be ambitious
You should brainstorm ideas for events and trips with your committee and your members. Think outside of the box and consider non-law students that may want to convert to law or participate in law socials. You may also want to raise funds for charities through fundraising events. Organising and hosting the events your students want to attend ensures that they will be fun and well attended.
8. Reflect on your events
After each event reflect on how it was run and where you can improve. You should recognise success and reward hard work, but also provide constructive criticism. Consider changes that you may want to apply to other events that year and what you would recommend to future committees.
9. Have fun!
Organising non-academic events, including networking events, can be a great way to attract different members and to have fun socialising.
10. Build on your successes
Every year, the society committee should develop the progress that has been made by preceding committees. If previous committees document their activity well, it should be easy to maintain contacts and to further your successes!