updated on 24 September 2019
Law fair season is an integral part of the first semester back at university. It's a fantastic way for you to kick-start the year in a positive way and set your sights on the end goal you want to achieve. Read my top tips for maximising your opportunities during the autumn term.
The first step is to find out when and where your university law fair is taking place. This is usually easy as it's quite well publicised by flyers, posters and emails around campus. If you're unsure, you may find it useful to speak to a member of the law school/law society who will be able to give you more information. Here is a full list of all the law fairs DWF will be attending.
You should begin by deciding what it is that you want out of your legal career. Would you like to have international exposure as a trainee? Do you have a passion for both business and law, and want the opportunity to become a legal advisor? Or is work-life balance the most important for you? Once you have made the decision, it will give you an idea of what to look for during the law fairs.
Your university will usually publish details of the law firms that are going to be in attendance over a week in advance. You should use this opportunity to read up around each firm, and prepare a couple of questions that you may want to ask on the day. Try to make sure that you don't just ask questions which have answers readily available on the website; the representatives have come a long way to meet you, and want to give you an idea of the business behind the website.
Once you have completed your research, it will be easier for you demonstrate your knowledge in the questions that you ask. For example, you may want to ask "DWF identifies as a legal business; are there any seat opportunities within the connected services side of the business?" This is a good way of showing the representatives the research that you've completed, and the interest that you have in joining the business.
Although you may still be at university, it's vital to adopt a professional attitude when attending the fairs. It's really important to be positive and confident, it's your opportunity to find out about the firm but it's important that you also make a good impression. Even if you decide that the firm isn't for you, it's important to be polite; you never know where your paths might cross again in the future!
If you're nervous about approaching the stand then it may be best to approach the trainees first; trainees have a better understanding of what it's like to be on the other side of the table so will be able to put you at ease at the earliest opportunity.
On a separate note, freebies are a big part of law fairs but not the most important part. You should avoid going over to the representatives and asking for a freebie before engaging in conversation; especially if you are genuinely interested! It may come across as insincere if you do this, which is not the first impression that you want to give.
By the end of the day you should have a better idea of where you would like to apply. If you take someone's business card or email address, don't be afraid to follow up afterwards with a thank-you note. If you made a good impression with the representatives, they will appreciate the thought and it may further cement the interest that the representatives may have in you. Make sure that you have a read through the graduate recruitment brochure for any other events the firm is hosting during the campus season. For example, we promote our open days and ‘Pizza and Prosecco’ evenings at law fairs, and it's always great to see applications from students who made a good impression at a recent law fair. It's a great opportunity to learn even more about the business and to build on the connections that you made during the fair!
Charis McGowan is the emerging talent officer at DWF.