'All's fair in love and law'
If your university or law school is anything like those I attended, you will be encouraged to dress up incredibly smart and get yourself along to a law fair to strike up conversations with the slightly intimidating representatives of various law firms, in the hope that the effort will bring you closer to the holy grail - a training contact.
However, in reality, most people go along to law fairs for the free stuff. Cup holders, sweets, highlighters, popcorn, USB sticks, pens, a Rubik's Cube, hand warmers, key rings! I think the best freebie I ever got was a customisable chalkboard mug, (hours of fun, although not particularly well-designed if you forget to hold the mug solely by the handle and prefer chalk-free hands).
So, what's it like to cross the divide and be one of those law firm representatives? Well, funnily enough, I found out in November last year when myself, a second year trainee and a colleague from the Human Resources Department manned the Higgs stand at Manchester Law Fair.
At first I was slightly nervous, but once I got into the swing of it, I surprised myself with the amount of information I've picked up. It was quite therapeutic to share my own experiences, which I hope were useful. I enjoyed getting to know, albeit briefly, those I chatted to. The potential training contract applicants that had done their research and spoke with genuine interest and enthusiasm really stood out.
I was pleasantly surprised that the people I spoke to came from a range of backgrounds and were at various stages in their careers, from first year students to paralegals and those embarking on their second career. Having worked for several years, including in a paralegal role, before beginning my training contract at Higgs, I felt I could relate to the vast majority of those I spoke to. I also shared my experience of moving to the Black Country, with no prior connections to the area, to start my training contract at Higgs, which I hope was reassuring for those who might be faced with a similar situation.
The internet is full of law fair 'do's and don'ts', which I won't bore you with by repeating here. I will say however, that I wish I'd taken some of the advice about law fairs on board when I was looking for a training contract, as being a law firm representative has shown me that there's a lot to be gained from networking in a focused way at these types of events. It can be a nerve-racking experience, but it's an excellent opportunity to sell yourself and to gain more information about law firms and legal career paths in general, even if it's simply by talking to people like myself.
Old habits die hard - I still went home with a new USB stick and a bag of popcorn at the end of the day!
Blog post written by Katie Willems