Success at the Law Fair Checklist

Success at the Law Fair Checklist

Harri Davies is a former trainee solicitor. Here he shares his essential checklist on ensuring success at law fairs. 


  • The purpose of the law fair for you: retrieve information that isn’t available online.

  • The purpose of the law fair for the firm: sell themselves and to find the right talent to fit their firm.

**Always bear points one and two in mind.

  • Think about you: what do you care about? What are your ‘career drivers’ i.e. priorities in achieving a fulfilling working life e.g. career progression opportunities (including any female progression initiatives), becoming an expert in a particular area (what does the firm excel at?), salary/status (there is no shame in admitting this!), flexible working or the firm’s commitment to corporate social responsibility.

  • What are your strengths? What are your personal development goals and do they align with the competencies that the firm is seeking? Which firm’s definition of ‘personal development’ most closely aligns with your own?

  • Have a list of 3-5 firms you want to speak to based on what is important to you and what may be the right fit (and once you’ve found out which stand offers the best stash – allow yourself the luxury of plundering their stand before it has all gone!).

  • Get a basic grasp of the firms on your list (at the very minimum): office location, practice areas, future direction e.g. do they want to expand internationally, a recent news story about them, their strategy (e.g. focus on particular industries), details of the training contract e.g. number of seats, secondment opportunities etc. and, importantly, what the firm claims makes it different – the stuff that is important to you (avoid asking for basic information that is available online!)

  • If you have time, look at application forms for your chosen firms and if you have any queries do not hesitate to ask graduate recruitment representatives at the law fair – a unique chance to gain an understanding of what the firm is looking for (but don’t ask for the answer!).

  • Dress: wear what makes you feel comfortable but you are best advised to dress to impress i.e. business casual.

At the law fair

  • Keep it simple – have a conversation, listen intently and try to take away 3 useful things (perhaps 2 from a trainee and 1 from graduate recruitment – ultimately, it is the former’s job you will be doing).

  • Get out of your comfort zone: be decisive and let your friends go where they want to go – don’t be a sheep – stick to your preparation.

  • Tailor your questions to your audience whether it is someone from graduate recruitment, an associate or trainee and what knowledge/insight they can offer you.

  • People love talking about themselves: speak to them about their experiences.

  • Get behind the website – get stuck in and find out what the firm is really about.

  • Demonstrate your preparation by asking thoughtful questions (not the ones you think you should be asking!) – avoid regurgitating information they already know without an insightful question at the end.

  • Culture: very hard to discern from a conversation with a couple of people – the true test is time spent within the business e.g. on a vacation scheme – but worth asking about e.g. some firms encourage collaboration through methods like open plan offices – ask: “what do you do to ensure that you maintain X culture?”

  • If you’re feeling confident, tactfully ask what the representative believes sets his firm apart from their competitors. This should not be an opener but is a perfectly appropriate question when the reality is that firms offer different experiences and opportunities and are fighting for the best talent.

  • Leave your CVs / business cards at home – they will not help you.

  • Law fairs are not networking events: be considerate of your fellow attendees and don’t hog!

  • No need to panic if your name is not taken down – firms sometimes do this as a black mark exercise (and definitely don’t panic if they do as many firms do it for good reasons).

  • Never forget the basics: be polite, friendly and enthusiastic – these are very easy to forget in the heat of battle for firm attention!

  • Relax and try to enjoy it – they’re there to impress you!

Next steps

  • Note down your impressions, the people you spoke to and the 3 useful points you took away from each firm as soon as you leave the fair when everything is still fresh!

  • If you’ve had a very good conversation and you had further questions that time didn’t allow, consider contacting that person if they have invited you to do so.

  • If you didn’t have time to look at application forms before the fair, access them without delay as reading the questions early will give you time to think about and develop well-thought out answers.

  • Consider whether your experience at the law fair is worth including in your application e.g. whether someone at the fair ignited your interest in a particular area, confirmed the initial positive impression that you had of the firm or gave you an insight into the culture at their firm.