In your first-year there are plenty of opportunities to get your foot in the door early, make a good impression and stand-out. In commercial law firms these include Open Days (1 Day), Insight Schemes (2-5 Days) and the opening of applications to become Brand Ambassadors for a law firm in your next academic year.
Why they matter
These opportunities are very much designed for you. They are an chance for you to find out information about the firm, ask questions, network and get a general feel for the culture of the firm, which is very important.
In your second year, you will be applying for Vacation Schemes and an Open Day is a perfect opportunity to find out which firm is tailored most toward your legal ambitions and to meet the people who will be reading your applications, to find out what they want from you.
I attended an Open-Day at the DLA Piper Office in Leeds and met the Graduate Recruitment Adviser who interviewed me for my Brand Ambassador Role. I felt far more comfortable in the interview as a result and very glad that I had met the person I would be working under.
What to expect on the day
Each firm has their own unique approach toward these schemes but expect commercial awareness talks, information about the firm, application advice, the undertaking of typical trainee tasks, group presentations, networking sessions and shadowing a trainee/associate for the day.
What to anticipate before you apply
All of the application dates and forms can be found on the individual firm graduate website. There is usually an application process which can be just a CV and/or a cover letter or a full application. Typical questions on applications include:
- GCSE | A Level Results
- Why you want to attend the open day?
- What you think you will gain?
- Why that specific firm?
- Extra-Curricular Activities
- Work Experience
- Online Verbal Reasoning | Situational Judgement | Non-Verbal Reasoning Test
- Telephone Interview
All these requirements are great practice for future applications and experience in general. For example, don’t write that you have great attention to detail and then make a spelling mistake two sentences later. However don't destroy yourself doing these applications either.
How to prepare for the day
In my experience there is not much you can do to prepare for these days and the firms generally take a similar approach since you are there to learn. It is an important time for meeting people, get to know the firm, hear about their most exciting work and see first-hand what a day in the life of a lawyer is like.
If you are generally quite a shy person, it would be advisable to prepare some questions beforehand that you’d like the answers to. Anything you find interesting, write it down for your own reference as it will also come in handy when you eventually apply for vacation schemes the year after. Be prepared to interact with Graduate Recruitment Officers, Trainees, Associates and Partners throughout the day as there is inevitably at least one hour of one-to-one networking opportunities.
Have a LinkedIn profile ready so you can connect to those you meet and make sure you keep in contact with them throughout the year. You will also meet other students from different Universities and I have found it very useful to discuss different revision techniques, how they are approaching applications and keep up-to-date with each-other.
Be enthusiastic and most importantly, enjoy yourself. The employees take time out of their day to meet you so make the most of it!
Discover commercial law graduate opportunities
There's no harm in researching and finding out what kinds of graduate opportunities are out there before you reach graduate level. To get started, take a look at the latest commercial law graduate programmes today.