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Law fairs: a prospective trainee’s dream-land of firm goodies, a place to stock up on stationery and the perfect place to make a good impression during application season. As is the case with most events currently, law fairs have moved to the virtual space. As a result, applicants are faced with a whole new set of challenges, whether it be dealing with dodgy WiFi or an impromptu appearance from your cat on camera.
Trainees, Jordan and Georgia, share their top tips for how to tackle virtual law fairs and make a good impression, even if it is from your kitchen table.
Whilst it is all new for both law firms and applicants to experience law fairs online, the age old adage still rings true: make sure you have brushed up on the firm’s practice areas, the types of services they deliver and where they sit within the legal market. This will mean you can get right into learning about the wider ethos and culture of the firm and whether they will be the right fit for you.
Long gone are the days of walking into a big hall and straight up to the firm you want to talk to. Now that we are all sat behind our laptops/ tablets, it is important to find a quiet, well-lit room where you can hear and be heard. Having distractions will only serve to decrease the amount of information you can glean from your short time slot with the firm.
Make sure you are dressed the part. With the new working from home environment it’s not expected for you to turn up completely suited and booted. A smart shirt or top can go a long way and can help reflect your personality a bit more. Remember, first impressions are everything – even at virtual law fairs!
Although each firm is still assigned their own ‘booth’, it is more challenging for attendees to engage in more than one conversation or answer more than one question at a time when online. Make sure you are patient and willing to wait to ask questions and use ‘Q & A’ or chat functions where possible. It’s a good idea to be selective about the firms you’d like to meet, so that you can invest a bit more time at each virtual booth.
But don’t be afraid to throw your hat into the ring by switching on your video, building rapport with the firm representatives and being one of the first people to ask a question. This will show that you are confident and interested in the firm.
When you speak face to face with someone it is easy to use visual cues to build rapport. This is naturally taken away when you move conversations online and it’s hard to be sure who is looking at you when there are 10 others on the call. With that in mind, make sure you have open and inviting body language, you look engaged and, last but not least, smile! If you are slouched and look disinterested you won’t be giving off the best impression.
Make the most of the law fair by following up with those you meet. Send them an invitation on LinkedIn, or a follow-up email thanking them for their time and ask any questions you may not have had time to during the fair. Building your network is key, even at such an early stage in your career, so don’t waste the opportunity!
While both law firms and prospective applicants grapple with the logistics of virtual law fairs, don’t forget that – virtual or not – they are the first step to help you decide whether the firm fits your aspirations as much as you fit theirs. Treat them as you would any other networking session (and just don’t forget to take yourself off mute), good luck!
Jordan Smithers and Georgia Bew are first and third seat trainee solicitors for TLT. Jordan is based in the Manchester office currently with the Commercial Dispute Resolution team and Georgia is based in the Bristol office currently with the Corporate team.