With the Warwick Law Fair soon to be upon us, you will no doubt hear countless times and from numerous sources what a great opportunity this will be for you all! And it will be, if you come prepared. Gone are the days of simply rocking up to pick up some free merchandise! In my mind, the first contact you have with representatives from firms at a Law Fair is tantamount to a first interview. And you wouldn’t go to a first interview unprepared now would you! So, the key to making the most of a Law Fair has a lot to do with being prepared and thinking about your approach beforehand, as well as what you actually do when you get there.
Do your research
Prior to the Law Fair, check which employers are attending and then identify no more than 8-10 which really interest you. Then it’s all about research! Find out as much as you can about those firms so that when you talk to the representatives at the Law Fair, you aren’t asking questions, the answers to which you could have gleaned from looking at their website. I would suggest making notes of anything that really interests you, or something you would like to know a bit more about, to refresh your memory on the day of the Fair. I think it’s always quite effective if you can start a conversation with something you know about the firm, but then go on to ask a question based on this information or explain why this resonated with you.
Try to be as smart as possible. If you turn up straight from playing a sports match or looking like you have just rolled out of bed, it doesn’t make a great first impression. Remember how quickly first impressions are made (within the first seven seconds apparently!). Law Firms will want to see that you are presentable and appropriate for the occasion. They want to get a glimpse of the “future you”, potentially meeting their clients and representing them. This is not a difficult one to get right so make the effort to present yourself well.
Try not to be intimidated
Easier said than done I know! But just remember that first and foremost, the representatives attending the Law Fair are human beings just like you! Yes it is a professional networking event, however don’t forget that simple things like smiling, asking if they had a good journey and showing an interest in their role in the firm and how long they have worked there, all count towards creating a connection and putting you both at ease. Don’t feel that you need to lead with a sophisticated question showcasing your great analytical legal mind! In my experience, the memorable students at a Law Fair (the memorable ones for the right reasons anyhow!) were always the ones who were enjoyable to have a conversation with. It didn’t matter if those students were slightly nervous as long as they were friendly and approachable. So try to be comfortable in your own skin and don’t forget your manners!
As soon as you leave the Law Fair, try to jot down important points about the firms you came into contact with, including names of anyone you spoke to. This information can prove invaluable when you are making applications later on.
If you have made a strong connection with a particular firm or representative, and that person has suggested you contact them and perhaps even given you an email address, then do contact them! I think it can be intimidating, and you can wonder about what you should say in a follow-up contact. If you are unsure, please do come and talk to us in the Careers Team. However, generally, a follow-up email from you would usually consist of thanking the representative for their time at the Law Fair and saying that you found it enjoyable and informative talking with them. Obviously if you have talked about something specific then the contents of the email might change. But always follow-up if you have the opportunity to do so. Law is a networking profession after all, and it’s always worth forging connections for the future.
Try to enjoy the event! Be bold and you may well be surprised with how much you come away with! And I’m not talking about the free merchandise!