Daphne McRae, LLB English and Law Student
Making a memorably good impression with law firms is difficult, especially considering the number of law students far outstrips the number of training contract places available.
Fortunately, there are means by which you can distinguish yourself from the cutthroat competition. One of the most effective ways I’ve found is to become the campus representative of a law firm for a year.
Although previously very limited at Queen Mary, a growing number of firms have started hiring student representatives here. You’ll now find one from Linklaters, Shearman & Sterling, Reed Smith, Holman Fenwick Willan and Berwin Leighton Paisner. LPC and BPTC (the extra years of education you must undertake if you want to become a lawyer) providers such as BPP and the University of Law also have representatives, as do Westlaw and Lexis Nexis, the legal databases.
During my second year I was brand ambassador for Linklaters, a member of the Magic Circle. I ran various social media pages, drove attendance for events at the firm, worked with law-related student societies, built relationships with the School of Law, ran freebie campaigns and arranged for lawyers at the firm to come speak to students, among other things. I gained an insight into the firm I never would have gotten otherwise and got to know the graduate recruiters there very well – always handy!
The job thrust me out of my comfort zone – carrying such an important brand on one’s shoulders is a big responsibility – but I learned heaps! The experience taught me the importance of networking, how to market myself and how to influence people. I also made lots of friends – each year Linklaters hire over twenty brand ambassadors at universities up and down the country. They were a great source of support during application season and I’m still in touch with a number of them.
Although having a prestigious firm’s name on your CV (it lends instant credibility) and a good working relationship with graduate recruitment is beneficial in and of itself, financial and other compensation is normally given. The form and amount varies depending on the firm, but can include a per hour salary, work experience, priority treatment for training contract applications, firm merchandise and even vacation scheme interviews. The job really does pay for itself, plus is easily tailored to your studies and not too time-intensive.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, start thinking about it early on. Firms normally take second years and recruit towards the tail end of first year. You can even voice your interest to them at one of their networking events earlier in your first year. I’d urge every student to seek out one of these roles – applications are very competitive, but it’s more beneficial than you could ever imagine. Most of my brand ambassador colleagues have landed training contracts at Linklaters or other prestigious firms!