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January 12 2022

5 helpful hints to ace your open days!

Legal Career Tips

Jacob Darcy

Jacob Darcy

A man, engaged in a remote open day with a law firm, speaks on the phone as he stares deeply into the screen of a laptop

Happy New Year! Application season is well underway and deadlines are coming in thick and fast. Part of the fun of pursuing a legal career lies in the wealth of firms and practice areas available. Whilst there are lots of opportunities, it can be tricky to work out where you want to apply. Applications are time-consuming and it can be difficult to prioritise them whilst juggling other commitments. I definitely know the struggle of balancing my applications with work and study! So how do you know where to apply?

Vacation schemes may be the best way to build insight and knowledge of firms interesting to you, and maybe bag that TC, but they’re not always easy to secure. That’s where open days come in! Open days give you the chance to meet a firm up close, without a lengthy time commitment. They usually require a short application, or might not need one at all! Most large law firms offer a couple of open days a year, so keep an eye out for dates and deadlines. I’ve done my fair share so thought it might be handy to give you the insider info!

Are you dressing smartly?

Frequently, firms use open days to connect with aspiring lawyers they hope will apply for vacation schemes and training contracts with them. Open days are therefore a two-way street. It gives the firm the chance to sell themselves to you, and for you to make a good impression with them. In the age of remote and virtual open days, there is no excuse to not dress to impress!

Can they see you?

Recruiters want to see you, that’s why they invite you to open days! It’s far easier to connect online when you can see and speak to one another. It’s also polite to show that you are engaging with the speaker, who has probably taken time out of a very busy schedule to speak to you. Naturally, tech problems do occur which make this difficult, this is totally fine! Just make sure to drop the recruitment team a message explaining this, I once lost my internet connection during a virtual social and the recruiters couldn’t have been more helpful and understanding!

Are your notes useful? 

You’ll hear lots of insights from first hand experiences on open days, information that will not be available even from the most dogged of legal journalists! Trainees, associates, and partners alike often speak candidly about their experiences and life at the firm. It’s an opportunity for you to get a feel for who they are, and if the firm is right for you. I know applications take a lot of time and energy, the struggle is real! I have found applying whilst studying and working to be exhausting at times, making it all the more important to decide where to put your energy. Noting down how you found the day will help you figure out if you want to make an application, and how to show you’re what they’re looking for!

Are you taking part?

Open days often include exercises for you to gain an insight into the life of a trainee. I’ve encountered exercises on acquiring distressed assets, pitching to a new client, and legal research to name but a few. Firms, and I cannot stress this enough, want to know that you are fully aware of what you’re signing up for when you apply to join a vacation scheme or for a training contract. Activities on open days are a chance for you to sharpen your skills and apply all that you have learned or will learn in the classroom. Discussing these experiences in applications shows proactivity, and also can be really good fun!

And lastly, what if you are undecided?

There may be firms you are quite interested in, but not quite sure about. You may feel that you do not know enough about them or perhaps you may not be sure if they’re right for you. I can relate to hearing a million different things about firms and not knowing what to believe. Well, these are the perfect firms for you to attend open days with! Whether you leave an open day eager to start a vacation scheme or training contract application, or decide against applying altogether, open days help you figure out your next steps and plan the applications you want to dedicate your precious time to.

In sum, open days are an excellent opportunity for you to build your knowledge of firms and prepare you for applications. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Go at a pace that works for you, take your time, you will get there.

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