Before you even get to the law fair you will benefit from carrying out some thorough preparation. Find out which firms will be there and do some research on each one that interests you beforehand.
Next, draw up a shortlist of firms you are most interested in and be sure to target those first. You do not want to be running out of time and still not have spoken to some of your preferred firms.
Getting The Most Out Of The Day
Here’s are our tips for when you get to the law fair:
- Keep an open mind – about the type of firm you might want to work for until you have met several.
- Be professional but relaxed – when you approach a firm. Don’t be too casual and don’t waste the opportunity to ask questions by asking questions which could be answered by reading their marketing literature/website.
- Introduce yourself properly – tell them your name and what stage you are at in your studies as a way of introducing yourself – also when you might be looking to do a vacation scheme and starting a training contract.
- Prepare questions – think about and plan the questions you will ask the different members of the firm and make sure they are questions you would really like to know the answers to rather than ones you think they want to hear. Ask each firm the same questions so you can compare like for like. Three to five questions should be enough but ask more if you feel a rapport with the person – however, be conscious not to hog someone’s time especially if there are other candidates hovering to speak too. Think about who to ask each question to – some will be better for trainees and others for partners.
- Be strategic – seek to glean information that will help you at the application and interview stages – for example, what are the 3 key things a firm looks for in its trainees, or which are the biggest challenges the firm is facing at the moment?
- Grill the trainees – always try to speak with the trainees as well as either a partner or recruitment manager. Trainees can tell you what its really like to work at the firm, what the training environment is like and the sort of work they do, the hours they put in and the culture of the firm, etc.
- Display your knowledge – show the firm that you know a bit about them already when you ask your questions or in general conversation. This will be noted and will impress them.
- Dress appropriately – you are not expected to dress in a suit but there is no harm dressing more smartly than you might perhaps for your day to day lectures/classes – as the cliche goes, first impressions count!
- Make notes – it is well worth making a few brief notes after you see each firm and then expand on these notes after the fair has finished but when things are still fresh in your mind. Be thinking about what you have learned that you can use in your applications and interviews when the time comes.
- Follow up – ask for a business card of the people you speak to and consider sending them an email afterwards saying thanks again for their time and you found it useful. Maybe even remind them of something you spoke about to jog their memory who you are. You never know when it might come in useful in the future for that person to remember you.
What Not To Do
Things you should not do if you do not want to make the wrong impression:
- Spend the entire time filling your bag with all the freebies and brochures – by all means take some as that’s what they are there for. Just make sure you focus on interacting with the firms’ representatives first and taking the swag second.
- Spend the entire time eating the free food and chatting with your friends.
- Always approach the firms’ representatives with a friend or friends. You want to create your own personal good impression, not appear as part of a double act.
- Go up to firms to collect their brochure and asking questions that will not impress such as”
- “When is the deadline for applications?”
- “What does the firm do?”
- “Why should I work for your firm?”
- “What is the salary for a trainee solicitor at your firm?”
- “When is the deadline for applications for vacation schemes/training contracts?
So if you want to make a good first impression and stick in the recruiters mind just aim to be confident and enthusiastic and ask some interesting questions that display you have done your homework on the firm in advance.
For details of law fairs that are taking place over the next couple of months check out our Law Fairs 2012 Guide.