How to prepare for an afternoon at a law fair.
1) Target practice
All firms are different and offer various insight schemes depending on the year you are in and the course you are studying. Find out which firms will be attending the fair and then target the ones which are most relevant to your interests, though it’s also ok to go and say hello to reps from non-target firms in case you change your mind.
2) Question time
Firms send a variety of people to law fairs, which can include graduate recruiters, trainees, associates and partners. Prepare some key questions you want to ask beforehand. Be intelligent and gauge who can answer what at each stand. For example, a question about the future strategy of the firm will be best answered by a partner while questions about opportunities available outside of work and experiences at interviews will be appropriate for trainees and associates.
3) Do it with confidence
It may be a cliché but impressions really do count. Keep calm and collected and introduce yourself with a handshake instead of abruptly blurting out a bunch of unfocused questions. Look people in the eye and pay attention to what they say as they answer. Finally, ask for a business card if you feel like a conversation has been meaningful.
4) The follow-up
Now you’ve bagged that important business card, follow up with an email within the next couple of days thanking the person for their time. Do not badger people, but making the right impression with clever questions can lead to a helpful chat over coffee later down the line. The same reps may attend another university event and it will help being a familiar face who the rep has spoken to before.
5) Take notes
Carry a small notepad and pen to jot down useful information. Try not to furiously write notes down as someone is speaking to you but write some key information down immediately after walking away from a stand so you don’t forget things. It can also be helpful to write a small note on a business card so you can use that information in a follow up email.
6) Be an early bird
There will be plenty of students at the fair trying to talk to firms too so you can find yourself having to wait around. Arrive at the fair early so you do not end up rushing around to talk to your target firms. Having plenty of time will stop you appearing flustered while talking. Sometimes less is more so you do not needlessly clog up the time asking questions for the sake of it; firms are there hoping to talk to as many students as possible. Keep it short and sweet.
7) Dress to impress
Leave that ‘Law Society Pub Crawl’ T-shirt at home. The law fair is a professional setting in which you will be interacting with your potential employer. People understand you are a student so it isn’t necessary to wear what you would to an interview but dressing smart will go a long way.
8) Pens, jelly beans, playing cards…
Do not go around looting stalls and running off with your head down while reps awkwardly look at you. Remember that the information reps can offer is more valuable to you than what they are giving out. That being said, firms bring freebies with the intention that you will take them and it is perfectly acceptable to ask if you can take something having taken the time to speak to the firm. You may even be lucky enough to bag Nabarro’s red dice!
9) Lone wolf
One of the best parts about university is being able to spend quality time with friends but you should save that for another time and leave your pals at the door. It can be awkward approaching stands in large groups as you will be struggling to get yourself noticed. Instead, be confident and professional enough to operate alone when approaching reps. Encourage your friends to do so, too!
10) Easy on the CV
Firms will not be focused on leaving the fair with piles of CVs to read through as they have online application systems which you will eventually use. You could carry them in your bag just in case but you should not be offering them to every person you speak to. Besides, the vast majority of firms do not use CVs as a part of their formal recruitment processes.