“Be well prepared and do your research properly” was the advice I was given in the first year of my LLB Law degree before attending the annual law fair at the University of Essex. A year later, thinking about this experience now, I realise how little this means to a fresher.
On the day of this year’s law fair at university, I knew what firms I wanted to see and, more importantly, I knew exactly what information I needed. I had been preparing for it almost a week in advance and was amazed to find out that other students had just flipped over Chambers Student Guide five minutes before going to the event.
I have heard many stories about students impressing exhibitors so much that they get offered a place at a vacation scheme, and always thought they were too good to be true. However, I saw a real chance of this actually happening when a representative of a firm noted my name down and said she would keep me in mind. While this is not enough to get your hopes up too high, it means much more than going home with a bag full of freebies and other goodies.
It is important to have a feeling of when you have asked enough questions or when an exhibitor might be getting a little impatient because he can see how long the queue is. On the other hand, if he keeps on talking and giving you all sorts of information, do not just leave because you think it is irrelevant to what you asked – you never know what can turn out to be useful to put down in your covering letter later on.
What seems to be comforting is that there is hardly any trainee that landed a training contract on the first go. Speaking to them is always motivating because of stories how they made the biggest mistake and typed the name of the wrong firm, or sent a fair amour of application forms before anyone finally hiring them.
Compared to the first law fair I attended, I left this one empty-handed. Of course I did get some brochures and leaflets, but much more valuable were my intelligible notes on what exhibitors had told me and the whole experience in general. I do application forms in my free time now – it is obvious that law fairs and applying to firms takes practice. It is disheartening when you get a rejection, but it is better to be disappointed for a while and move on, than give up and be even more disappointed in the long run.