Whether you’ve just started your first year or you are now preparing your final year dissertation – approaching a complete stranger to talk about law does not really sound appealing regardless of what stage you’re at. And rightly so, it is not. But the more networking you do, the better you are at it and the more beneficial it will be to you. You ‘just’ need to go out there and start!
Birmingham Trainee Solicitors’ Society is a group of trainees, junior lawyers, paralegals and students from across Birmingham and West Midlands. We know your concerns because we’ve all been there so we asked our members and gathered a few tips that will hopefully help you master your networking skills.
First things first, make sure you’ve got all the basics covered before you even leave your house and reach the venue. Dress smartly and research law firms attending the law fair beforehand so you know what is the firm’s profile (national, international, US law firm etc.) and, roughly, what sort of departments the firm offers. If in doubt, make sure to speak to a member of the career services at the University. They will be more than happy to provide you with an overview of what to expect on the day.
Once you arrive at the venue, do not overcomplicate it. Put a smile on your face and approach law firms’ representatives that are there (these will usually be trainees and members of a graduate recruitment team). It is fine to join someone’s conversation as long as you are respectful and allow others to ask questions as well. If a thought of interrupting conversation gives you shivers, you can stand near drinks or food table so that you can easily bump into others and start a conversation (firstly about the food and then about the law).
Use the day as an opportunity to ask as many questions as you can. If in doubt, stick to basics and ask what is it like to work in a law firm, why do they work in the firm, what do they do at the firm, whether people are coming to the office after the pandemic, what is the office culture etc. Think of a sentence or two to introduce yourself as well. This is your opportunity to shine! If you play any sports or do any other extracurricular activities, mention that and ask if this is something you can pursue with the firm. Many places have their football or netball teams and being pro-active and keen to join committees or teams is always much appreciated. Remember you will be joining a firm to become a part of it – law firms want to get to know you as a person and find out more than your academics.
Last but not least, don’t forget to follow up with people who you spoke with. Whether it is sending an email or a LinkedIn invite, make sure you thank them for their time and recall a specific thing you talked about. This way, they are more likely to remember you (be mindful that trainees and recruiters are talking to hundreds of students on the day) and respond to your future queries.
Please visit https://www.thebtss.com/ to find out more about the Birmingham Trainee Solicitors’ Society and how to join.
The BTSS mentoring scheme presents an excellent opportunity for Warwick Law Students, in all years of study, to gain invaluable support from an experienced professional, over the course of 6 months. APPLY NOW (Deadline – Sunday 6/11/22).
As a mentee, the programme is geared towards developing career critical professional and personal skills, growing your network, and developing plans that provide the direction you need to reach your goals.
Monika Gagat Education Officer Birmingham Trainee Solicitor Society