Why is it important to engage with law firms before applying for a training contract?

Make the most of opportunities to attend Open Days, Careers Events and Vacation Schemes.   There are many reasons why this is a good idea:

  • Gain an understanding of the firm to see if you like them and can see yourself working for them.  By meeting with the firm before making applications you can find out about their specific application process and what they are looking for.
  • Many firms now recruit a large % of their trainees from people whom have previously been on their vacation scheme.  In some firms 80%, 90% or even 100% of their recruiting is done in this manner.
  • It’s good for you to become known by the recruiters.  Build up a good rapport with them and they may well then remember you when they receive your application.

Subsequently, if you apply to a firm you have previously interacted with mention, in the application, that you have attended relevant events and name the people you have met with.

Law Fairs

Law Fairs before Covid were always in person and usually in the autumn term.  At a law fair legal employers, educators, publishers, governing bodies etc. take a stand in a large (usually noisy) hall in order to speak with you about who they are and what they can offer you.  It is a chance for you to find out:

  • about different firms/chambers and their training opportunities and the areas of law they practice in;
  • nab a freebie (but be polite)
  • pick up useful information:  firms brochures/ books such as “The Training Contract & Pupillage Handbook” / sign up to newsletters etc.
  • speak to providers of legal education to find out about the requirements/costs/deadlines etc, for vocational courses i.e LPC/SQE/BVC

Virtual Law Fairs

As a result of the social distancing restrictions during the pandemic many law fairs went on-line.  There are a growing number of large law fairs on line and it looks like this may be the future of the fair.   It’s important to know that the exhibitors at these fairs WANT INTERACTION from attendees.   See the below for how to prepare.   We’ll provide you with details of the Careers Fairs you can attend on the  Events – off campus tab on this blog.

How to prepare for a law fair


What are they?

Quite simply, it’s a day at a law firm.  /

An Insight Day is generally aimed at students who are in the early stages of thinking about a legal career.  It’s a chance to learn more about the legal profession and the legal industry.   Usually, Insight Days are open to 1st year law students and 2nd year non-law students.

An Open Day is usually targeted at students who have decided that a legal career is right for them and they have decided that this firm is one they are interested in.  The aim of the open day is to encourage the attendees to apply to the firm.

Whichever day you attend the agenda will be made up of:

  • Meeting key people at the firm including lawyers, trainees and the graduate recruitment team.    You will first encounter them as presenters or panellists but some of them will also be ‘mingling’ with you during lunch.
  •   There will be talks about the firm and what they do and why they are a good firm to work for including their ethos and culture (you always need to know about a firm’s culture for applications so take note of this!   Don’t forget that, an open day is a ‘sales pitch’ – the firm will be presenting all of their positives.  Use your time their to consider carefully if this is the place for you and ask the questions that haven’t been addressed.  Over lunch there is usually time for informal chat – ask the trainees if things have lived up to their expectations etc.    You may also get to look around some of the premises.

Read more:

When should I apply?

Open days can take place at any time during the year.   Each firm will set their own application window.  So, it’s really important to know which firms (or types of firms) you want to visit ahead of the start of term so that you can have a list of when to make your applications.

Open days listing/deadlines:

You will find overlap on all of these listings but, occasionally one may have a listing that another doesn’t so it can still be worth a quick look at each listing.  Listings will be fluid – they’ll only include the details of an open day once a firm has announced it.  So, you should dip in and check at least once a month.  Alternatively, if you specifically know which firms you want to visit then take a look at their website (they will always have either a ‘careers’ / ‘work with/for us’ tab or a separate careers website)

I recommend the following:

How should I prepare for an open day?


Don’t be shy to ask questions.  The person who doesn’t speak will be noticed and is unlikely to be considered any further (yes, they do take notice of this).   All questions will be welcomed but it’s worth while ensuring that you don’t ask questions that have already been answered (make sure you are listening at all times) or the answer is obvious.

Don’t be afraid to be a normal human being during lunch!  Whilst it is a good time to ask your questions about their jobs and the law firm it is also OK to talk about normal life i.e. the weather, last night’s sporting fixture – essentially, you just need to be interested, interesting, personable and nice.   That’s what people remember!  (They also remember ‘not nice’ but you won’t be that person!)

Do not use your telephone unless it is part of a task or you are using it to record notes – but make sure that this is obvious to the firm (I would err on the side of caution and use a tablet or paper for note taking – that way nothing can be misinterpreted).  The only time you should get your telephone out is if you have been asked to do so or you have stepped away from the group.  If there is a reason to have your telephone out i.e. there is an absolutely critical call that you are waiting for.    I do know of recruiters who will strike you off the ‘follow-up’ list if they think you are using your phone when you should be listening.