You’ve survived #lawfairwarfare – what next?
Whatever you took away from the law fair, be it a full deck of business cards, a positive impression of a firm or a headache following a blow-by-blow analysis of a mega merger that you didn’t ask for; use this experience to inform your approach to applications.
Feedback from law fair attendees (employer and student), as well as my own insights as a former trainee, form the basis for the following typical law fair experiences and how best to react to them now the fair’s over:
Your law fair experience:
“I was pleasantly surprised!”
- You gritted your teeth, dived into the trenches and approached a firm you hadn’t read about in advance and were impressed by the people you spoke to.
- Action: do some homework and find out if an application would be worthwhile.
“They wrote down my name”
- If you felt the interaction went well, do what you can to ensure your application flags the conversation at the law fair.
- Action: include your experience in your application form but avoid dreaded name-dropping for the sake of it!
“I got a business card!”
- Action: if you haven’t already done so, follow this up as soon as possible!
- You will have been given a card for a reason and that isn’t for a thicker looking wallet – they’re waiting for you to get in touch.
- Politely ask if they’d be willing to meet for a coffee. Where this is impractical, arrange a phone call to discuss areas you didn’t cover at the fair.
“I spoke to lots of firms but did I make an impression? I only had time for a quick conversation so is it worth including in an application form?”
- Remember: law fairs are not networking events so short conversations are fine – firms will have appreciated your efficiency!
- Action: if you feel the conversation supplements your reasons for applying include it in your application.
“I spent most of my time talking to a couple of firms and didn’t have time to see any others”
- It’s great that you had a long chat with a firm but avoid putting all your eggs in one or two baskets!
- Action: do some more homework on the firms you didn’t speak to.
“I asked specific and got generic”
- Note: law fairs are tough for law firms too – they do almost all of the talking for 3-4 hours – so forgive them for the occasional generic answer!
- Action: think about whether you could have asked your question differently or whether you need to be more specific in future.
- If the information was available online, you’re not giving firms the opportunity to give insightful answers.
“I had a bad experience”
- A firm that had initially interested you dropped the ball by being rude/hostile.
- Option 1: persevere – a handful of representatives are not the complete picture!
- Option 2: re-assess, are they really the sort of people you want to be working with?
- Only you can decide between 1 and 2!
“I felt overwhelmed and hated every second”
- Fear not – life in law is not #lawfairwarfare writ large!
- Law firms are highly attractive employers and naturally attract swathes of applicants so the heat of battle can get very intense!
- Action: Prepare fully for the next one –see tips on maximising your time at the law fair
If you didn’t go to the law fair – DON’T PANIC! Firm-specific events often provide more information so focus on those you’ve attended and take every opportunity to go to any remaining events.
Practical next steps:
- Download the application forms of each firm you intend to apply to and get a feel for the demands of each one.
- Find out which firms have early deadlines and which make rolling offers i.e. before the deadline for applications – prioritise accordingly!
- Incorporate what you learned at the law fair in application forms – if you followed my advice in the Success at the Law Fair Checklist you’ll have copious notes and detail to draw upon!
- Include conversations from the fair you felt were meaningful in application forms – no matter what level of seniority i.e. a chat with a trainee could be worth including.
- Include their name and what you took from the conversation – these should link strongly to why you want to work for that firm.
- Capitalise on the hints and tips you picked up at the fair e.g. if a firm has an active social media presence – monitor posts and learn as much as you can; if an employer has taken an interest in a particular aspect of your experience, ensure you include this!
- Heed advice: if a firm has academic requirements that you haven’t quite met, ensure an application is worth submitting. Often firms will still consider your application – ensure that you provide any relevant context for your grades where possible e.g. in a cover letter.
- Complete every other section of the application to the highest standard.
- If you’re in your final year, check that you are eligible to apply for the summer vacation scheme. Some firms have winter schemes to cater for final year students – check whether it is still possible to apply for these.
- If not, assess other options as increasingly vacation scheme places are awarded to final year students as well as graduates – contrary to popular belief, gaining a place in your penultimate year is not an absolute necessity!
- Do some further reading: deepen your knowledge and understanding of what you learned at the fair.
- “Sick stash” as a reason for applying should probably be left out of application forms.
Once you’ve submitted your application
- **Read acknowledgment e-mails carefully – many firms require you to take a verbal reasoning test before considering your application within a deadline and instructions will be included – do not miss these!
- Continue to monitor developments in the industry and any news stories about the firms you have applied to.
A positive meeting at the law fair could be the beginning of an exciting career – this has been the case for many successful solicitors!
No matter how good an impression you made at the law fair, applications are a tough process – ensure you pull out all the stops to maximise your chances of getting a vacation scheme/TC!
For further insights and advice on writing effective applications, connect with Harri Davies on LinkedIn or follow him @HarriLlDavies on Twitter.