Networking can be a pretty daunting thing for anyone… Let alone teenagers where the only time they are really put into a situation where they are forced to meet people is in school, and everyone is in the same boat there. Therefore, I think a lot of people particular from my course, first year LLB students, did not like the idea of going to an event where they would have this new pressure placed upon them… alongside the general CBA nature of a many students who are not so driven and know what they would like to do with their degree.
Luckily for me, it’s a skill that I don’t find particularly hard as I have always been an outgoing individual. I ran for head boy, I was the student union president, I was a student governor… it’s fair to say that I put myself out there when I was growing up and developed fairly good people skills.
So I signed up and went to the ‘Law and Justice Fair’ which was held at my university, and it was a really good experience… and very different to the media networking session I attended with my friend the previous week! It was the first chance I have had to do some proper legal networking, and it was beneficial. There was a real mix of people there, from actual solicitors and barristers, to trainees and paralegals.
One thing that I seemed to gather more of an idea about, from talking to the elder and more experienced individuals at the event, is they have tried a few different areas of law, which was quite comforting.
From the first day at Uni we were all asked which area of law we wanted to go into, and I had an idea at that point… but it’s still a big decision to make on your first day at Uni! So in that sense it was nice to see that some of these barrister and solicitors that had been practicing for 20+ years, even they changed around a bit and that there is at least some flexibility in the industry.
The majority of people who had come to the event to network seemed to be at least in their second or third year of the LLB or doing the GDL, LPC or BPTC, so I could not help but feeling a little insignificant. But I tried to put that out my head as best I could.
There were 20 different firms at this event, none of which were magic circle firms which in a way was better as it meant there was less pressure. There were many firms, which seemed very student friends. Many offered many traineeships, work experience and paralegal jobs. This is where I found talking to the current trainees and younger newly qualified lawyers was really beneficial.
These people are going through the process, or just completed the process that hopefully in a few year’s time I will be going through. Therefore, I found it very helpful finding out what they did to get where they are at the moment. This gave me a real picture of what it takes to get into a law firm in the current climate. The main point being to get work experience (which is no shock really). It’s the thing that made them stand out, and it seemed like a lot of the trainees and newly qualified lawyers did work experience at the firm they are currently working at, which helped them secure the training contract.
So all in all it was a pretty successful evening. It was quite different from the ‘drinking, music and partying while trying to slip someone a business card’ media networking event of the previous week… however it was more professional, and even if nothing specific comes out of it that I can add to my CV, I will still feel like I have benefited just from the information, advise and the general proactive networking/talking to legal professionals.