There are lots of incredibly inspiring and informative career related events that will undoubtedly help students and graduates wanting to succeed in their pursuit of a career in law. However, I am regularly surprised by how often they are under-utilised by candidates struggling to get that job offer.
A Lack of Pro-activity
There are some incredibly useful career and networking events put on by universities, law schools, junior lawyer divisions and law firms. One of the things that never ceases to amaze, however, is how often the attendance at these events is very low. We so often hear about the difficulties faced by students in getting a training contract or paralegal position, so why are many not seizing these opportunities to get some help. I fully acknowledge the challenge involved in getting a training contract. However, what I find when I scratch beneath the surface is often a lack of pro-proactivity and motivation in many candidates.
A Hunger To Learn
It is those who seek to learn more about how to make progress in a very competitive market place that usually fare the best. Attending careers events is one of the best ways to do this. Whether you are attending a law fair, a law firm open day, a junior lawyers event or any other type of educational or networking event there is always the opportunity to get plenty out of them. The majority of these events are free and their importance should not be underestimated.
The Benefits Of Attending Events
Time and time again I have seen law hopefuls who have attended events give themselves an advantage over other candidates due to one or more of the following benefits:
- Invaluable and honest advice is imparted by career experts, lawyers, trainees, etc
- They are a great way to conduct live research and to find out more about the profession and/or firms
- A great opportunity to develop necessary skills in networking and communication
- You may get to talk to firms’ representatives in the flesh, whether trainees, associates, partners or recruitment personnel. These are the people who have already been successful in getting the training contract you want or the people who stand in your way of getting that training contract.
- You will be able to ask them questions that can help you when you put together your applications. You can find out information that is not otherwise available about the firm and their recruitment processes which candidates who do not attend these events will not have access to. You can find out what firms REALLY want from their applicants, giving you a blueprint to work towards that most others won’t have.
- You can get a better sense as to what the firm is like in reality. This will not only mean you have a better chance of making the right career choices but it will also mean you will find it easier to convince the firms you do apply to why you are applying to them. Do not underestimate the importance of this!
- When the application and interview stages come around you will be surprised how many of the recruiters will remember a name or a face so its not going to harm your chances to have already put in this groundwork.
Knowledge is Power
Knowledge of the profession is often a stumbling block for many as its hard to get much of a picture of it from a just few bits of work experience and some online research. Having a discussion with someone already within the profession, and being able to ask questions, is much more valuable than browsing another website. Getting face to face time with those who could help you gain this knowledge can be hard if you are going out cold into the world. However, the people who put on or attend law careers events are there because they want to help you. Therefore they are already warm to you asking them questions and to giving you knowledge and advice.
There are lots of events hosted all around the country. Ask your university and law school how you can find out about the ones they organise. Contact your local Junior Lawyers Division. Keep checking the main law careers websites, sign up to their email newsletters and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. There is lots going on but you need to be pro-active to find out about it. You then need to motivate yourself and prioritise your time to ensure you attend and make the most out of them when you are there.
So, What Will You Choose?
Being pro-active requires you to be organised and to choose to allocate some time to the important activities. Your time is an investable commodity. You can either invest some of it wisely in learning how to shape your future and succeed in the application process, or you can squander it on less meaningful (but perhaps more enjoyable) activities. Every now and then, of course its still fine to choose the union bar over another night of research or applications. However, sometimes you will reap much more by choosing to invest your time in an event that will help you learn, connect and make progress instead. The choice is therefore yours… You can choose to sit and be reactive to things and rue the tough job market and the plight of law hopefuls today. Or you can join the much smaller group of people who are being pro-active with their careers by attending events, learning to network, developing core skills, working on their mindset and learning how to succeed in the recruitment process.
Image: Celestine Chua