This year, we were privileged enough to be invited to hold a CV clinic at The London Law Fair. The event was held at the Law Society in London and The Law Tutors was given a table in one of the prestigious meeting rooms.
For those of you who haven’t been to the Law Society, we would thoroughly recommend a visit! It is a magnificent building and a great place to meet people in the legal profession.
Our Managing Director, Shiv Raja, was seated alongside representatives from some leading law firms and universities and it was a good opportunity to discuss and debate employment in the legal industry.
The format of The London Law Fair was very simple: visitors had the opportunity to walk around and meet potential employers and then they could bring their CV to the CV clinic where they could have a one-to-one consultation.
The London Law Fair was very busy but it was great that so many students had the opportunity to come and speak to experts about their CV and receive advice on how they can improve the structure and content. Whilst each consultation was bespoke and personal, we noticed some key themes throughout the day. So, what did we learn and what are our suggestions for aspiring lawyers?
When we were having our discussion with each student at The London Law Fair, it became evident that the general view is that students find it very difficult to even get an interview from prospective employers. Our advice to each student was: keep going and approach getting a job like playing a board game: it’s all about strategy.
Think about when you play chess or football or another other game: if one strategy doesn’t work, you try another one. If you have been applying directly for vacation schemes or training contracts at large law firms, how about trying at smaller firms? What about working as a paralegal for a year? What about doing some unpaid work experience once a week at your local firm?
Treat Your CV and Covering Letter Like it’s a “Shop Front”
We found that a lot of students at The London Law Fair asked us to review CVs that had very unattractive presentation and structure. The key thing to remember is: this is your marketing document so treat it like it’s your “shop front”.
Think about a brand that you like. Apple? Gucci? Armani? Then think about their store. If you were walking past their store and their shop front was messy or had spelling mistakes or wasn’t presented well, you would ask yourself why you are paying all that money for the product. It would make you think that the brand doesn’t care enough about their presentation to create an attractive shop front. The same applies to your CV and covering letter: making it attractive shows that you care. Always remember: you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression.
There Are Lots of Free Resources Available
Students at The London Law Fair told us that there are lots of free resources available to help aspiring lawyers. The London Law Fair is just one example of an initiative designed to increase the information available to those interested in pursuing a career in the legal profession.
Law firms have open days, insight days and presentations all the time. Our advice to aspiring lawyers is that they should visit as many events as they can. Visiting events not only increases your knowledge, but it also gives you the opportunity to network and meet new people.
The Key To a Good Application is Research
We found that students at The London Law Fair were generally keen to apply to as many law firms as possible to maximise their chance of being offered a training contract. This has always been an interesting debate. Should you apply to as many places as possible in the hope that you get an interview somewhere (anywhere!) or should you take more strategic approach?
Our advice has always been that a good application takes time and that it is much better to apply to a few firms with excellent applications than to lots of them with average applications. If you can draft high-quality applications and do lots of them in a short space of time, that’s great and you should take advantage of the fact that you can do that. However, for the vast majority of us, quality work takes time.
The key is: show that you want to work at the firm you are applying to. Think about this in the context of life in general: would you want to employ someone who has just submitted an application to you because they just want to work for a law firm? Or, would you prefer to employ someone who actually wants to work for you in particular?
Don’t Give Up
Many students came to us suffering from a lack of motivation and self-confidence after having being rejected. The most important thing to remember is that things that are worth having don’t always come easily. The key is: hard work, determination, strategy and most importantly, patience.
Conclusion: The London Law Fair
Sometimes, the route to becoming a lawyer is not going to be direct. Some of the most successful lawyers have inspiring stories of having to go through great adversity to get to where they are. If you are feeling low, remember that there are others who have been in your position before. Keep going!