University law societies are an excellent way to get to know more about the legal profession, meet potential employers and attend great social events. Most are open to both law and non-law students interested in a career in law.
So before you sign up for a three-year membership at your university's custard wrestling society, it's worth thinking about joining a society that can really boost your career prospects in the legal profession.
What your law society can do for you
Law societies are a mine of knowledge and information. As a member, you could find yourself participating in a discussion with a trainee, attending presentations by a partner, or signing up to CV clinics and interview advice talks. At most law societies, there will be presentations tailored for students at different stages of a law degree as well as talks for non-lawyers, too.
Sophie McGurk, President of the Oxford Law Society and currently reading geography, says that the most useful talk for her was on what to expect at a law firm interview: "The advice that stuck in my mind was not to be afraid of giving the wrong answer: I learnt that it's better if you say your thought process out loud so the interviewer can see how your mind works, rather than not answering the question at all."
Many law societies are also known for their brimming social calendars, and law firms are keen to show students their less formal side by sponsoring events. These socials are attended by representatives from the firm and give students the chance to ask questions in a less formal setting. Oxford Law Society is known for hosting some of the most popular and successful social events in Oxford, including formal dinners and termly balls.
The society also runs smaller events like "Cocktails and Cupcakes" where students are treated to a spread of complimentary cocktails and "sponsored" cupcakes, decorated with Law Society emblems or a sponsoring firm's logo. "It's a nice way of getting people to mingle," says Sophie. "You can have a free drink, a cupcake and a chat. It's really useful and really good fun." There are usually a few trainees at the event, which is something Sophie says she finds reassuring: "You have a bond with the trainees because they know exactly what you're going through. You can ask them what seats they've done, how they're finding their training contract and what they thought of law school."
What you can do for your law society
Despite all the social and academic benefits of joining a law society, simply listing membership on your CV is often not enough. "I'd say if you really want your CV to get noticed, it's important to become a member of the committee as it shows you're taking a genuine interest in the running of the society," says Sophie.
She explains that her role as president involves organising presentations and socials, and contacting sponsors. "You gain so much experience from it and it teaches you how to be an effective leader for your peers, who are also your friends, which can be quite a difficult thing to do."
This experience is invaluable when it comes to your training contract applications, as you'll be able to give some great examples of how you've developed the skills trainee solicitors need. With intense competition for training contracts at top law firms, this could really make your application stand out. So think twice before buying that custard wrestling kit.