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Attending your first open day

Attending your first open day

Joe Defries


In this article, I’ll discuss law firm open days, especially in the context of first year, and explain why it’s important to learn which firms are suited to you. I will discuss what to expect from law firm open days and how you can get the most out of them, drawing on my own experience as I’ve been able to visit over 10 firms in my first term of university. 


Why should you attend a law firm open day? 

As a first-year law student, it’s worth taking the early opportunity to explore different law firms so you have a good perception of how a law firm looks and operates. You will find that they vary a lot! At such an early stage in your degree, open days are a nice way into networking and learning about a legal career.

Open days are not a test, they are relaxed and will give you a lot of insight into the type of work you may be doing as a trainee, as well as enable you to introduce yourself to graduate recruitment in your first year. This will come in handy later on when you’re applying for first-year schemes or vacation schemes, as you can refer back to the open day as a reason why you became interested in the firm. You should also attend law firm open days so you can gauge which firms suit your career ambitions or preferences and which definitely do not. This could include flexible working, having a particular area of practice that you like, the size of the intake and the structure of the training. By essentially eliminating firms which you don’t feel suit you, you’re saving yourself the effort of applying to somewhere that won’t satisfy you. On a more positive note, open days are also a great opportunity to meet law students and expand you network. Speaking with other students allows you to reflect on what you’ve learnt from the open days. 


What’s the general structure of an open day? 

You can expect presentations from graduate recruitment, a talk from a partner or associate about their area of practice, a trainee Q&A and then networking drinks. This is a standard law firm open day structure, but I’ve been given negotiation exercises to do in a group and even had to pitch to a fictitious client. Expect to make a lot of notes and be armed with some questions to show your engagement throughout the day. This will not only impress graduate recruitment but allow you to speak about what you’ve learnt in a future interview or assessment centre.

The open days usually last anywhere between three and five hours, and the networking part of the day offers the opportunity to make a good impression and gain some real insights into what it’s like to work at that firm. Personally, I find speaking to trainees to be most valuable, as they have recently been in your position and hearing their stories about getting into the firm and why they chose it can help tremendously. Speaking with partners is also valuable because you can get a better understanding of what it is about the firm which has sustained their interest. Also, asking partners about how the firm stays ahead of its competitors will create an interesting conversation. 


How to make the most out of open days

  • Pick up all brochures and deadline fliers; 
  • bring a pen and paper;
  • have some questions ready for different people, such as graduate recruitment, trainees, associates and partners; and 
  • follow up on a conversation you had (only if it was particularly insightful) over LinkedIn. However, be careful with this and assess whether that person will want to receive further questions. If it’s graduate recruitment, go ahead, but with partners I would be more cautious.