updated on 23 July 2020
Last year I attended the LawCareersNetLIVE careers conference in Manchester. I also secured a place on a vacation scheme at a commercial law firm this summer. I attribute a portion of this success to my attendance at the conference because it was motivating, informative and solidified my desire to pursue a career in commercial law. I wholeheartedly believe that attendance is essential for anyone considering a legal career who wants to get ahead of the rest.
Here are my highlights from the conference.
What really made the conference stand out was the workshops. As a non-law student, the world of commercial law can often feel extremely confusing and overwhelming. I had also found it difficult to gain an in-depth insight into specific sectors, and this is something LCN provided that my university law fair could not. Before the conference, we could see which workshops would be available to attend and which firms would be leading them. We could then select our two preferences for the day.
My first workshop focused on real estate and was delivered by Shoosmiths – a leading national firm with a strong real estate department. After learning about the sector, we were assigned a group task in which we considered the commercial issues that might arise when a client wants to invest in a property development. This was a great opportunity to practise my commercial awareness and presentation skills, and I enjoyed working with the other delegates.
My second workshop was on environmental law, which is a sector I previously had prejudices against as I had heard it could involve ‘immoral’ work, and that no lawyer who works in this area could truly care about climate change. However, the solicitors from international law firm Osborne Clarke assured us that their job involves ensuring that businesses follow regulatory laws which protect the planet. This is now a sector that I am extremely interested in thanks to the valuable insight I received.
The workshops allowed me to gain a real understanding of specific firms and their practice areas, as well as encouraging me to practise skills that are often tested at assessment centres. Not many other experiences give you the opportunity to get involved in work exercises that are similar to the real tasks you may be given as a trainee.
The networking lunch was another highlight of the day, and not just because of the fantastic food! Before I attended the conference, I had found it quite difficult to approach partners and trainees and didn’t realise the value of networking. The conference provided a relaxed, safe space for me to practise my networking skills and ask any burning questions. This meant that when I attended my real assessment centre, I had the confidence to speak to the firm’s partners.
A wide range of firms attended the conference and we had multiple opportunities to network throughout the day. One reason I felt particularly glad to have attended the conference was that it was less crowded than any university law fair I had been to. This meant there was enough opportunity for everyone to speak to each firm with ample time to ask any questions.
Panel session and question time
Towards the end of the day, I attended a panel session with recruiters from various firms. They shared their advice and answered any questions we had about the application process. My main takeaway was that even though the recruiters were from different sized firms from all over the country, they all agreed that firm research is one of the most important things to do when making an application. Therefore, after the conference I made sure to carry out more thorough research of the firms I was interested in applying to so I could more accurately convey why I believed I was a good fit for them.
Impact of the conference
After the conference, I began my vacation scheme applications and mentioned the conference in the work experience section. Since the process of applying to the conference itself was very similar to that of a real vacation scheme or training contract application, I felt like I had already practised an application form and felt confident in my abilities. By mentioning that I was one of 138 out of 900 applicants selected, I believe my commitment and drive to a career in the law was highlighted and allowed me to stand out from other candidates. I would say to anyone considering applying for the LawCareersNetLIVE careers conference 2020 – go for it! It might just be the part of your training contract application that helps you to stand out.
You can find out more about this year’s LawCareersNetLIVE conferences and apply at https://live.lawcareers.net/.
Hannah is an English literature graduate from the University of Leeds and is about to start studying the GDL.