Law firm open days: an introduction from a graduate recruiter

Caroline Sarson, Graduate Recruitment and Development Manager at global law firm Mayer Brown, gives us an insight into 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. 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.

Here Caroline Sarson, Graduate Recruitment and Development Manager at global law firm Mayer Brown, explains what happens on a open day and what you could get out of attending one.

What is a law firm open day all about?

At Mayer Brown, we see our open days as primarily information days - opportunities for students to find out more about a career in commercial law and the firm.

Who are open days at Mayer Brown aimed at?

Our open days are designed for students at all stages of their university careers - we have first years, second years and third years coming along to them.

We think they can be particularly useful for first years, because there are fewer other opportunities open to them to find out about commercial law firms. If they make the effort to go to some open days, they'll be in a really good position when they come to apply for vacation schemes and training contracts because they'll have met a few law firms in person and will have a good idea of what a career with one would be like.

What happens on a Mayer Brown open day?

In the morning, there's a welcome from our senior partner and overviews from partners of two of our practice areas, both with opportunities for questions.

Next, there's a trainee "speed networking" session. We split the students into small groups and bring in trainees who spend ten minutes or so with each group. Students can ask the trainees about the practice area they're currently working in, how they've found their training contract, or about any other aspect of their experience at Mayer Brown so far.

Then there's a networking lunch with partners, associates and trainees, which provides more opportunities for the students to speak to our lawyers and find out about life at the firm.

In the afternoon, there's a tour of our offices, followed by a commercial awareness skills session. The day ends with a talk from the graduate recruitment team about our application process and a chance for students to ask us questions.

What could you get out of attending an open day?

A key benefit is being able to find out whether you can see yourself at that particular law firm, because law firm websites and brochures can look very similar. At an open day you get to see the offices for yourself, meet the people who work there, observe how they interact with each other, and can generally get a feel for the organisation in a way that just isn't possible from just reading a website or a brochure.

Open days are also a chance to understand the realities of a career in commercial law, and to decide whether or not it's for you. Working as a City lawyer is a challenging job where the hours can be long, and by attending an open day you'll get first hand information on what the role is like day-to-day.

What should you do to prepare before an open day?

Find out about the firm - by having a good look at its website and brochures - so that you have a good working knowledge of its capabilities and what it offers students and graduates.

Having done this, you can use the open day to build on what you know by getting more in-depth insights, as opposed to just finding out the basics.

How do open days fit into Mayer Brown's vacation scheme and training contract application processes?

Our open days are separate to our vacation scheme and training contract application processes. This is because we want students to feel that the day is a relatively relaxed opportunity to find out about careers in commercial law and Mayer Brown.

But if we think an open day student is very impressive, we will certainly remember them if they apply for a vacation scheme or a training contract.

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