Created with The University of Law

How aspiring lawyers can become networking pros

Avatar photo

By The Careers Team on

ULaw London Moorgate Dean Aruna Verma talks smooth networking, tailoring firm applications and dealing with rejection

Having spent time in both legal practice and education, Aruna Verma, now Campus Dean at The University of Law’s London Moorgate outfit, has a wealth of advice to offer.

Ahead of her appearance at Legal Cheek’s Spring Virtual Vacation Scheme and Law Fair which begins on Monday, we sat down with her to get her thoughts on how students can make the most out of the scheme and maximise success in their applications.

The ULaw-Legal Cheek Spring Virtual Vacation Scheme and Law Fair has several components to it – workshops, law fairs and an employability expo. What are your top three tips for how students can get the most out of attending the scheme?

The ULaw-Legal Cheek Spring Vacation Scheme is an excellent opportunity full of various events. Firstly, I would encourage you to prepare in advance of attending the event. Find out the names of the firms and organisations attending, visit their websites to understand their areas of expertise and work culture. Be curious, make a note of any questions you have about the firm and any major work they have done recently.

Secondly, during the vacation scheme, be active.  Participate by asking relevant questions, share your ideas and thoughts. Start conversations, continue them and take part actively. Leave an impression.

Finally, make sure you send follow -up emails to the contacts you have made. Refer to conversations you had and reinforce your interest in the area of law or firm.

After events I have presented or hosted, I usually get LinkedIn requests with a short note on where we met and what we discussed.

When it comes to virtual networking, how should students be deciding who to speak to and the kinds of questions to ask that would be a useful addition to their written applications to firms?

Events, whether they are online or in-person, requires a strategic and proactive approach before attendance. Who do you want to speak to and why? Is there anyone you need to ensure you have spoken to?

Prior to any major event, I would urge you to make sure your LinkedIn or social media networking platforms are up to date.  List all your skills, experiences and interests. Highlight your strengths.

Find out more about studying for the SQE at ULaw

Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the networking. I would ask a general question to get the person’s attention. For example, what part of your work do you enjoy the most?  Express your interest in their work and request a brief conversation to learn more about their career path and gain insights into the industry. If you have questions about the application process, ask for advice, for example, what are the firm considering when looking at personal statements.

Another struggle with networking is how artificial it can sometimes feel, and that might make it a tad awkward. How would you suggest students combat this and try to come across as genuinely and authentically as possible?

Always be yourself. Authenticity shines through when you’re true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Speak naturally and let your personality come through in your communication. Smile.

Demonstrate genuine interest in the other person by actively listening to what they have to say. Keep eye contact.  Make notes. Ask thoughtful questions. This demonstrates that you value their perspective and are engaged in the conversation.

Follow through. If you say you’ll follow up with someone or send them information, make sure to do so in a timely manner. This demonstrates reliability and builds trust.

Show appreciation for the time and insights others have shared with you. A simple thank you goes a long way in building positive relationships and leaving a lasting impression.

What is your advice to students who are in the process of figuring out what kinds of firms they want to apply to — what sorts of factors should they be taking into account, and what should their shortlisting process look like?

This all requires research and a fair bit of it. Look into the type of firm you wish to work in by looking at their practice areas, does this interest you and fit in with your career aspirations?

Research into their culture and values. Does it fit in with yours? Consider the importance of professional development, work-life balance, diversity and inclusion for example.

Make a list of all the criteria that is important to you so you can benchmark the firms against your values.

One of the most difficult things in an application is demonstrating your genuine interest in the firm. In your experience, what can a student do to stand out in this aspect of their application?

The extensive research into the firm will shine through in your application. Tailor your application and customise it to the firm. You can tell when you have sent out a generic letter which is nonspecific to the firm.

What do you want the firm to know about you? What impression do you want to leave them with? Ensure you highlight these experiences.

Getting a training contract is often a long process. What is your advice for those who are feeling deflated or demotivated by rejections, especially when getting feedback on applications is rare?

Experiencing job rejections can be disheartening, but it’s important for students to stay resilient and maintain a positive mindset.

Its okay to feel emotions, acknowledge them and process them. Sit with them. But not for too long.

Always follow up with a thank you and ask for feedback. If you do get a response back on this, use the feedback constructively to identify areas for improvement and refine your strategy.

Stay persistent and continue applying to positions that align with your skills, interests, and career goals. Take online courses, attend workshops, or pursue certifications to enhance your skills and make yourself a more competitive candidate.

Reach out to your mentor or support network to debrief.  Stay positive, rejection is temporary. Take care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being during this challenging time. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s exercising, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing hobbies.

If you could now give one piece of advice to your younger self when you were starting out in your career, what would it be?

To utilise my network and my mentors! I was worried about approaching people, but I realise now that people are very generous with their time – they just need to be asked. They can only say no!

Find out more about studying for the SQE at ULaw

Aruna Verma will be speaking at The Legal Cheek Spring Virtual Vacation Scheme and Law Fair 2024 taking place from Monday 25 March to Wednesday 27 March 2024. Apply now to attend.

About Legal Cheek Careers posts.

Related Stories

Wanting to convert a vac scheme to a training contract? Here’s what you need to know

ULaw Campus Dean Aruna Verma discusses transferable skills and commercial awareness hot topics

Feb 15 2024 8:26am

From Magic Circle lawyer to law school campus dean

Sarah Pooley talks about her move into education, MC lawyering and hot career tips for trainee hopefuls

Feb 7 2024 8:50am

Making the most of opportunities as a training contract hopeful

ULaw Vice-Chancellor Peter Crisp offers his top careers advice

Dec 1 2023 8:05am