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Making the Most of Law Fairs

As a trainee I attended my fair share of law fairs – now as a newly qualified solicitor I still get to go along to many. They’re overwhelmingly a really positive experience, both for students and for the firms attending, but it’s still important to try to make the most it. With that in mind, below are what I hope will be some useful tips for you.

Know the Basics

I have been asked some quite unusual questions, and mostly, they’re really interesting and fun to engage with. However, I have also been asked “are you a bank”. Not a brilliant first impression. The staff members at law fairs aren’t HR so obviously we don’t have anything to do with your application – but we are potential colleagues, so it’s better not to start out by forgetting what we actually do.

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Lots of careers fairs also include businesses other than law firms – make sure you know which are which.

Research the Firms

Ideally find out who’ll be there in advance and research the firms. Make notes and take them with you to remind yourself – listing out a couple of key queries staff can help you with is always good too. If there’s a firm you weren’t expecting, or you’re having a blank, or you’ve left your notebook in the taxi (it happens), do a sweep of the room noting who’s there, go outside and do some quick research on your smartphone, then go back in prepared.

You don’t need to know every firm inside and out, but it is helpful to know which firms you’re particularly interested in, and a bit about them. For instance, if you’re interested in criminal law, check websites to see if the firm deals with that (we do) and then you can speak to staff more specifically about the criminal department, rather than asking them to rattle off which areas of law the firm deals with (especially when you’re at a full service law firm like Lanyon Bowdler, this can take a while).

Research is simple, but effective. An actual staff member is able to flesh things out for you more effectively than perhaps any other resource, so make the most of that by having the basics ready for them to add to.

Ask all of your Questions

When you have solicitors or trainees available to you, it’s because we want to help – so make the most of it! Don’t leave with a burning question. If you think of something after you’ve already spoken to us, you can always come back.

Follow up as Appropriate

We usually give out cards as and when requested. Don’t be shy to drop us an email. We meet a lot of people at law fairs, and it’s nice to know if you found us useful! There are always a few people who really shine – an email helps us remember the face with the name, since as you will appreciate we can meet literally hundreds of people in one day at a law fair.

Also, if you’re applying for a training contract, don’t be afraid to mention that you’ve met our staff at a law fair, and it would be nice if you would let us know which one, too.

Write things Down

It’s fine to make notes. We know you’re meeting a lot of people, and it’s a lot to take in – making the odd note if you need to shows you’re interested and paying attention.

And finally..

Don’t:

Be Rude or Inappropriate

This one seems obvious – but it’s not. I attended a law fair once where pretty rapidly all the firms there realised there was one person doing the rounds and simply asking “what do you earn?” of every trainee they could find, then walking away without so much as a “thank you”, sometimes even before the trainees had finished speaking. We do speak to each other, and lots of us do know each other, so we do realise these things! It’s perfectly ok to ask general questions about what lawyers earn, whether salaries are competitive, if we have any benefits, how regional pay compares with city law firms, or so on, but it’s a bit rude to simply walk up, ask for a figure, then walk away. Just remember we’re not robots, but people too, and you’ll be fine.

With the above in mind, I hope you’ll find law fairs more useful than ever – and if you see Lanyon Bowdler at any, don’t forget to come along and say hi!