Event summary 2019: Student Story - Lucy Cole

Author: Lucy Cole

Monday 2nd September 10am; feeling nervous and apprehensive, a room full of 100 of the brightest law students and some of the top commercial law firms in the UK. Sounds like an impressive event? The Bright Network ‘Future Lawyers Top 100’ certainly was.

We were welcomed to the event by the CEO of Bright Network, James Uffindell, who passionately commanded the room of awaiting members, setting us short and fun networking tasks so we could get to know new faces in the room, as well as hearing their career and personal aspirations. This introduction left everyone in the room with a smile on their face as we walked into our first panel event.

Before the panel on ‘What To Expect In Commercial Law’, Rebecca Wright and Maaz Shahzad gave us a brief look at how they secured their training contracts at prestigious firms after both attending events with Bright Network -  a great way to show the audience how to make the most of the day ahead of us. The panel discussion that followed comprised of representatives from Covington and Burling LLP, Forsters, Macfarlanes, Mishcon de Reya, Shearman and Sterling and White and Case; we were given a professional insight into how to be a successful commercial lawyer, as well as having a more personal look into the partner’s careers and what challenges and failures have faced them. What I enjoyed about this panel were the stories of resilience. Everyone talked about how they overcame hurdles, and that although it may not be apparent at the time, that everything will actually be okay in the end as long as you learn from the mistakes. This was certainly a reassuring start to the day!

Moving on, we were split into small groups of 8-10 people for a structured networking session with the firms in attendance. This almost felt like a ‘speed-dating’ style activity, as we had 10 minutes with each firm to get an overview of their character, but also a chance to ask any questions we had (and pick up a few freebies too!). This was a great way to get to know the firms on what seemed like a more personal level; on websites and in the papers, law firms can easily merge into one and all seem very similar, but this way of networking allowed for the firms character to shine through, making it easy to identify what stands each firm apart from one another.

The second panel event focused on ‘Top Tips for Vacation Schemes’, lead by Herbert Smith Freehills, Linklaters, RPC, Slaughter and May, Trowers and Hamlins and Watson Farley and Williams. This was a great way to get application advice for those of us who plan on applying for vacation schemes this year, as we learnt how to stand out from the thousands of other applicants, and the skills that the top firms are really looking out for. The insight certainly made me feel a lot more comfortable about facing the daunting application process.

Finally, the day ended with a ‘goodbye’ and an award ceremony comprising of prizes presented by each of the firms present. To celebrate each others achievements was such a positive end to the day, and we also had the chance to reflect on what we had learnt and what we had each achieved; whether that was having the courage to approach a firm in the open networking after the final panel, or whether that was simply learning something new about a firm that inspired you to want to apply.

Monday 2nd September 5pm; feeling positive and confident, a room full of 100 of the brightest law students and some of the top commercial law firms in the UK. Sounds like an impressive event? The Bright Network ‘Future Lawyers Top 100’ certainly was.