In your first year at university you have access to plenty of opportunities to find out about careers in commercial law and commercial law firms. These include chances to meet and gain work experience with commercial law firms that are targeted specifically at first years.

On campus your options include careers fairs, law fairs, graduate recruitment presentations from commercial law firms and your university law society. Many commercial law firms also offer workshops, open days, vacation schemes and other opportunities specifically for first years in their offices.

Here's a guide to some of these opportunities that will help you most as a first year interested in commercial law:

Law fairs

University law fairs are essentially careers fairs focused around graduate opportunities in law. You'll typically find that a good spread of large commercial law firms will have a stall at a university law fair and here you'll find both graduate recruiters and lawyers from these firms.

University law fairs are a great way for first years to find out about careers in law and commercial law firms, meet lawyers and law firm graduate recruiters, and take a few significant steps forward on the path to a career in commercial law.

Open days

A law firm open day gives you the chance to get beyond a law firm’s website or brochure and find out what working life there is really like. 

On an open day at a commercial law firm you’ll usually meet lawyers at the firm, see their working environment, and be given invaluable information about applying to law firms and being a commercial lawyer.

Vacation schemes

These vacation schemes are available to first year undergraduates, usually including those not studying law, and take place in the university holidays over a short period of time, typically one or two weeks. 

They give first year students an insight into what it’s like working for a commercial law firm and often pave the way for a career there as successful students may be shortlisted for longer penultimate year vacation schemes and subsequently training contract places.

First year vacation schemes at commercial law firms usually involve a mixture of workshops, case studies, presentations, work shadowing and networking opportunities, where you can meet lawyers at the firm and find out more about the firm’s culture.

University law societies

University law societies are an excellent way to get to know more about the legal profession, meet potential employers, and develop your skills.  Most are open to both law and non-law students interested in a career in law and your first year is an ideal time to get involved as it allows you to make the most of what your law society can offer you.

Most law societies arrange presentations from law firms specifically for their first year members. Law societies also usually offer social events sponsored by law firms and are often attended by representatives from the relevant firm, which can be a great way to chat to commercial lawyers about their jobs in a relatively informal environment. 

Playing a significant role on your law society management committee, which is easiest to achieve if you start working your way up in your first year, is a great way to develop skills that commercial lawyers need, such as organisation skills, teamwork and leadership.