While this may not be on every first-year law student’s agenda, in this article I’ll address why you may consider establishing a niche law society, how you should go about this and how to organise your first event.
Why might you consider starting your own law society?
There are many reasons why you may wish to establish your own niche law society. The creation and management of a law society will allow you to practice some of the most important skills needed to be a good trainee solicitor. Managing a team, meeting deadlines, being creative and holding a leadership position are the main skills involved in forming your own law society.
If you aren’t just interested in standing out in applications, creating a law society is a very enjoyable experience. You have the chance to run events on topics that you’re passionate about. Examples of some niche law societies include medical law, fintech, blockchain, pro bono, human rights and litigation. The great thing about ownership of a society is that it’s really up to you to make the most of it. You can host competitions, invite guest speakers to the university, give presentations, host drinks receptions and much more.
Another reason why you may consider starting your own law society would be because you feel that the main university law society is not providing students with enough events on a certain area of law. Seeing this as a window of opportunity, you can capitalise on this demand. In my own experience, I wanted to learn more about alternative dispute resolution and litigation, but many of my campus events centred on transactional corporate law. Hosting events that solely focus on litigation has now attracted a lot of members.
How do you start a society?
This will vary between universities but in my experience, you will have to register with the student’s union, pitch your idea on the website and then gain enough support to prove that your society should be made official. Promoting your idea around campus or asking students whether they would like to see the introduction of such a society is a good way to gauge interest. You will also need to make sure that your law society is different to the others, otherwise it may cause clashes in terms of budgeting and maintaining an active membership. It’s important to advertise your law society as having a USP and that joining this society will add value to students. The less you think about how you want your society to run, the less students will be convinced that your events will be worthwhile. This is a great chance to improve your marketing skills and turn your vision into a reality.
Another key aspect of starting the society will be forming a committee of students who can help you with events and bring ideas to your attention. You may just want to have your friends on the committee if you believe they’re equally passionate and competent. However, you may want to offer students from all years and disciplines the opportunity to get involved. You can hold interviews or ask students to submit a short 200-word description about why they think they should be on the committee. The main roles you’ll need to delegate are social secretary, treasurer, president, vice president and media secretary. These roles allow responsibility to be delegated so that the running of the society becomes a lot more manageable.
How will you organise your first event?
Your first event is the official launch of your new law society. It’s important to spark interest and get people to sign up to a mailing list, while also keeping it casual. Don’t try to do too much for a first event, like inviting a guest speaker. The reason that holding a relaxed first event is key is because this is going to be a new experience for you and everyone attending. The easier the event is to run, the more likely it is to be a success. Promote the event on Facebook groups and make sure that your whole committee speaks about the first event to their friends.
Students attending the first event will be looking for professionalism and a clear structure to the night. To retain their interest in the society, you will want to engage them throughout the event. Make the presentation or introductory talk as interactive as possible and make the effort to speak to students individually afterwards, thanking them for attending and asking them about why they signed up for your new society. The soft skill of networking effectively with your members is essential if you want to keep numbers consistent throughout the year. Another aspect of your first event will be sponsorship money and budgeting. If you can secure a sponsor for the event that will be very useful as you can buy wine, canapes or prizes to compliment the night.