It is application season and law fairs at universities across the country are in full swing. We have all heard the traditional advice that you should prepare the questions that you ask firm representatives at these – but how?
One piece of often-repeated advice is that you should not ask anything that can be found online or on the firm’s careers pages. Therefore, it is best to avoid questions about vacation scheme dates/deadlines or practice areas, as well as any basic questions that you can find answers to in the brochures they are handing out.
Instead, law fairs are a chance to get your personality across. More importantly, they are a chance to figure out the law firm’s personality – that is, the culture, work and trainees.
If there are trainees or solicitors at the stand, you can get a feel for the firm’s culture by asking questions about their work. For example, what are you currently working on? What is your work/life balance like? How well does your cohort of trainees get on with each other? What are the opportunities to get involved in international or client-facing work on a daily basis?
Similarly, if you get the chance to speak to a member of graduate recruitment, you can get a feel for the culture by asking them why they chose to work at that firm rather than any other. Graduate recruitment and HR representatives can also provide tips and pointers about the application process, so ask them specific questions about what they look for in the application form or whether there is one thing that is most important to include in an application.
Even better, if you are in the middle of completing an online application for a particular firm when the law fair takes place, this is the perfect opportunity to bring up any queries that you may have about the form. For example, some firms have boxes near the end of their application forms where you can add extra details or information that might help your application – it may be worth asking individual firms to clarify what they typically get in response to this, in order to gauge how much you should include in your answer.
Finally, it is often said that you should research the law firms at a fair, including their practice areas, the industry sectors in which they specialise and the offices that they have. Noting down this information is a good start, but thinking about additional questions based on your research into these areas is even better (especially if you are able to talk to a lawyer). For example, you could be interested in a particular firm’s fintech services – from this, you might ask whether the representatives know of any current projects that the firm is involved in or how it has been innovative in this sector to get ahead of the competition.