It’s that time of year where many eager first-year students submit applications for places on open days at law firms. In the next few weeks and months, some lucky students will receive coveted invitations to such events and, for many, it will be their first chance to interact with such large and high-profile firms. Of course, many ‘meet the firm’ style events this year will be online instead, but this does not prevent them from being useful!
How should you prepare for the big event to ensure you make the most of it?
Research, research, research
Part of the open day will revolve around the firm itself, usually in the form of a presentation or keynote speech about how the firm is structured, what practice areas it specialises in and how its training programme operates. So, when doing your research, it is not vital to read absolutely everything about the firm – learning about it is part of the purpose of the day itself! However, it is still a good idea to read over your successful application and any research you did in order to write it, as when speaking to representatives at the event it is useful to show your enthusiasm for the firm outside of what you’ve just been told at the event itself. Doing this research is also helpful in prompting you to think of any questions you may like to ask firm representatives, which will make you stand out (hopefully in a good way!).
Before the event
You don’t want the first impression the firm has of you to be a poor one. Leave yourself lots of spare time to log onto the event and plan your outfit beforehand in case anything needs washing. If no dress code is stated, err on the side of caution and go for business wear. If nothing else, wearing such clothes will help to put you in more of a ‘work’ mindset than the surroundings of your bedroom might otherwise do.
On the day
Make sure you have a notebook to hand in case you want to make notes. When speaking to firm representatives, it is always a good idea to politely ask at the end of your conversation whether they would like to connect with you on LinkedIn. While you may be nervous, remember that everyone there is in the same position as you and it is not an assessment day, so there’s no reason to act competitively with your peers! Try to see group activities as practice for an assessment centre and get everyone in your group involved. Remember that, although you may feel awkward at the online aspect of such events this year, everyone is in the same boat, including the firm’s employees!
After the event
Remember to connect with anyone you met on LinkedIn as soon as possible and thank them for being part of the event. Read over your notes and make sure they are legible. Store them in a safe place because when you come to apply to the firm for other opportunities, you may wish to refer to them. Finally, give yourself a pat on the back because you have probably just had your first proper contact with a firm which might one day be your employer, and you nailed it!
And finally, remember that open days aren’t everything
If you’ve read this article and are now worried because you haven’t received any invitations to open days, or you didn’t even apply for any, then you should know that this is fine too. Many firms do not even offer them (especially this year) and those that do will understand that university and life can be very busy and that you, therefore, may not have the time to attend such events. Remember that there are many other ways to get experiences to talk about on future applications, so open days – while great – really are not the be-all and end-all.