‘Events, dear boy, events’

No prizes I’m afraid for knowing that this quote is attributed to former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.  While this was Super Mac’s response to a journalist’s question about what was most likely to blow a government off course, it might equally answer the question ‘What is the single best way to find out which law firm is a good match for me?’

You’ve by now probably been to a law fair, picked up some brochures and started to think about which firms you are interested in finding out more about.  Those of you who are very keen might even have followed-up your interest by sending a few emails to the people you met.  The logical next step is to try to attend events being run by your short-listed firms.

Some of you will find that there are employers tripping over one another in order to invite you to dinners, skills sessions and networking events – if you are in this fortunate position do not waste these opportunities but also try to be selective about which events you attend so that you can prepare properly and extract the full benefit from attending. 

But what if your preferred firm doesn’t have any plans to visit your campus, how can you pursue your interest and find out more about them before making an application?

 

‘Open House’

Unfortunately it is simply impossible for law firms to get to each and every campus (time, budgetary constraints and logistics all play a part in dictating what is feasible), but please don’t think that this means we are not interested in receiving an application from you.  So in addition to campus events most firms will also hold open days at their offices; this means provided you can keep the date free and make the necessary travel arrangements you need not miss out.

At Pinsent Masons we hold a series of Office Open Evenings every January across the majority of our UK offices.  Typically there are 50 places at each event and these are open to current students and graduates of all degree disciplines.  They are particularly useful for first year students who are keen to get ‘ahead of the pack’ before applying for a vacation scheme the following year.  You can book a place at an open evening by visiting the events page of our website.  We are currently accepting application so book soon to reserve your place!

Another option is for you to be proactive, approach us, and tell us why we should run an event on your campus.  We are always really keen to hear about both the new and long-standing societies that a number of you are part of and what you are trying to achieve.  Already this year we have organised events with societies that have only been set-up in the last 12 months (Aston Law Society and the Southampton Negotiation Society); this was a direct result of  students approaching us and explaining why we might be interested in working with them.

 

What makes a successful event?

A Clear Objective – Make sure you can explain to the recruitment team what you are seeking to achieve, why you think it will be a success and what are the benefits ot the firm.   If you are representing a society, be sure to provide an overview of your membership and other events you have been running.

Original Content– I am a great believer in providing students with what they want, tell us what topic would appeal most and we will create some content for you.  If your mind is at a loss we have a number of existing workshops that focus on topics such as: applications, commercial awareness and negotiation skills. 

Interactive Elements– Most recruiters do not want ot stand and deliver ‘Death by PowerPoint’ to a room of unengaged candidates.  While this can limit the number of people who can attend the event it will ensure those who do make it along get much more from the session.

Cost Transparency – Most recruiters have a tight budget to work to, especially so at the moment.  Try to be as accurate and up-front with any costs that may be incurred as possible and provide different options for firms with different sized budgets.  Not only does this demonstrate your commercial awareness but it will help you get the most from the event.  If your society normally uses events as a fundraising activity to fund other activities this is fine but don’t get greedy, many recruitment teams include recent society members who know exactly how much it costs to organise events!

Good Timing – You are in a much better position to advise when is the best time to hold an event in order to reach the most relevant audience.  Please advise recruiters on whether it is between lectures, in the evenings or on a particular day of the week.  If you can guarantee us a full room of potential candidates we will genuinely try to fit in with your requirements wherever possible but remember we may have a long journey home after the event!

The Right Location –Try to strike a balance between: functionality, atmosphere, cost and access.  The last one is particularly important as it is not acceptable for some candidates to be excluded from attending because they are unable to physically reach the room in which the event is taking place.  See this as an opportunity to demonstrate your initiative and negotiation skills to the recruiter by securing a venue at zero cost or with a reduced tariff for drinks and food.

Adequate Resources – If you need resources to run and promote an event do not be afraid to ask for help.  Provided you plan ahead and give us some time to respond most recruitment teams will be able to provide AV equipment, poster templates and printing facilities to help things run more smoothly- we want it to be a success too!

Realism – Don’t try to achieve too much with one event.  It is much better to run a smaller, more focused event really well than hold a large, badly run event that everyone remembers for the wrong reasons.  If you have too many/too few people wanting to attend let us know, we can usually adapt the format or come back and run another event later in the year. 

If this post has encouraged any of you to consider running event please get in touch with us at graduate@pinsentmasons.com as we would love to hear from you!