1. Plan and research!
Being able to plan which Law firms you want to talk to and what questions to ask takes skill! So make sure you check out the Law firms attending on campus to research and focus your questions to get the most out of your 5-10 minute conversation.
Consider the sort of training contract you are looking for. Would you like to work in a large city-based firm working on large contracts or a smaller firm with more client facing responsibilities? Base your questions on your interests and make them relevant, as it will show you have used initiative and are proactive.
There’s no excuse when finding which firms are exhibiting! They can be found on the University careers website under recruitment fairs and an event guide will also be provided on the day at the Law fair. It is always a good idea to know who is attending! Knowing who you are speaking to, what they specialise in will enable you to speak with confidence, which is what all firms want!
2. Fix up, look sharp!
Careers fairs are always going to be full of students and firms can tell! Casual dress in jeans, hats and caps and even leg warmers are all a giveaway! But ever thought of standing out from the crowd and getting noticed by a firm for the right reasons? Just a pair of smart shoes with a smart appearance will help you get noticed and you will look and feel the part of a potential solicitor!
Your attitude and behaviour are also things that Law firms will look out for and being polite sounds simple, but taking a genuine interest in the firm and responding to questions will go far. Don’t push in front of a queue, be patient and thank the firm for their time at the end of your conversation.
3. Questions you should never ask a firm: ‘Why should I apply to you?’
Remember, you are starting out, you have your whole life ahead of you, why would you say such a thing? Firstly, it can come across quite arrogant to a firm when all the information of why you should apply is readily available from most, if not all firm websites.
Alternatively, asking questions around the firm’s culture, what they are impressed by or training opportunities are going to get you a better response.
Enquire about opportunities for early responsibility or secondments abroad and when meeting firms keep all questions consistent so you can make a good decision at the end of the day.
Remember, the firms are there to provide advice and not a one-to-one guidance session! Talking to firms for 5-10 minutes is ok. Don’t ask questions you can find the answers for yourself.
4. You are not alone! Speak to Trainee Solicitors
Many firms will have a recruitment consultant and a current trainee solicitor present at their stand. Make use of them! Talk to the trainee and find out as much as you can about their experience. They have been in the same boat as you and will be able to provide an insight into the working life of a trainee.
If you have followed the advice above you will find that you will have a good few contacts and business cards! This is great news and shows they have a genuine interest in your potential! Now, don’t leave the cards lying around on your desk! Take action and follow-up. Send them an email saying how useful it was to meet them and talk about your development and thank them for their time in the email. Check if they are on LinkedIn or connect with their social media networks to keep up-to-date with the firm. You never know where this could lead to and what information you could find and use to support you in your applications and interviews.