If you want to work in the legal sector but aren’t sure exactly what kind of firm you want to work for, a law fair is a great opportunity to hone your interests. You’ll be able to meet firm representatives face-to-face and ask them any burning questions you have about life at their firm.
What is a law fair?
If you’ve ever been to a careers fair—a conference-style event with different employers representing a range of companies—a law fair isn’t far off that experience. The difference being, of course, that every company there will be law-related. Law firms, barristers’ chambers and other companies with a legal focus or department will be on hand to talk about their organisation, provide you with brochures and guides, and answer all of your questions.
At a lot of law fairs, the day is broken up by talks, workshops and seminars on particular matters related to law careers: CV development or interview skills, for example.
Law fairs aren’t just for aspiring Solicitors and Barristers; aspiring Paralegals, Legal Secretaries and PAs will benefit from face-to-face interaction with law firm representatives. You’ll be able to take any information you’ve learned from scouring recruitment websites to the next level, and seeing a range of employers in one room will help you to figure out the type of company culture you want to work in. By the end, you should be closer to answering questions such as, “What kind of firm do I want to work for?” and “Do I want to work in a huge team or a smaller one?”
Where can I find law fairs?
Law fairs are held at universities and in large conference halls across the country. For the former, it’s a good idea to check out your local university’s law faculty or society website: you don’t necessarily need to be a student to attend. Otherwise, there are a number of fairs that operate independently of universities, such as The London Law Fair, which is organised by The Law Society. Keep an eye on university events pages, as well as The Law Society’s event page, for more information on this type of fair.
Law fairs: how to prepare
Unlike an interview, you won’t be put to the test at a law fair, but it’s still important to approach it as a professional opportunity and do some preparation. First of all, check the law-fair website and identify all the firms that you’d like to speak to, and any talks that stand out to you. Do a bit of research into any firms or organisations that stand out and make a note of any questions you’d like to ask the firm representatives.
If you’re not sure how to narrow down your list of firms to approach, think about the type of working environment in which you see yourself. Would you prefer to work in a vast, international law firm, or are you interested in somewhere smaller and more specialist? Are you interested in secretary work in a particular area or speciality of law, such as shipping or M&A? Figure out these things first, and there are likely to be firms at the law fair that reflect your interests.
Questions to ask
To get the most out of the law fair, it’s best to ask questions that you genuinely want to know the answers to, rather than making small talk or asking questions for the sake of it. Any practical questions about how to apply, the type and frequency of Legal Secretary and PA opportunities at the firm, and what a typical day involves are good, as are questions about training and development opportunities. If you have any queries about how the firm operates or what the culture is like, now is the time to get them off your chest!
But ultimately, make sure you ask what you personally want to know: there’s no obligation to ask questions, but a law fair is a rare chance to get face-to-face time with law recruiters. Make the most of it!
On the day
There are three key things to remember at the start of a law fair day: dress smartly, pack a notepad and pen, and expect to collect a lot of brochures! Some of the latter will be more useful than others, so keep a lookout for the more general resources or booklets that are geared towards aspiring Legal Secretaries and PAs.
Law fairs aren’t just a chance to get a Q&A with a recruiter and a large tote bag of brochures. They’re also a good chance to network. You could run into other aspiring Legal Secretaries and PAs, as well as Partners, Associates and Recruiters at a huge range of firms. This could be a great chance to introduce yourself and make a first impression: who knows, they might later think of you when a Legal Secretary vacancy comes up! If you have business cards bring them along, and be prepared to add anyone interesting on LinkedIn.
It’s also a good idea to have some CVs in your bag. As an aspiring Legal Secretary or PA, you have a niche career interest—there are likely to be a lot of aspiring Solicitors at the fair, which means you could stand out for all the right reasons! If you have a productive conversation with a recruiter, leaving them with your CV could be the best way to make a memorable impression. Who knows: it could even lead to a job opportunity.
Becky Kells is the editor of AllAboutLaw, an advice, features and jobs platform for aspiring legal professionals.