10 Tips For Attending A Law Fair
If you’re attending a law fair for the first time, it can seem like an intimidating event. Oftentimes there are hundreds of people crowded into one large ballroom with law admissions deans, directors, and even law students all trying to get your attention. You may not know how to act or what to say. The reality is that a law fair is potentially an excellent source of information for interested law students.
10 Tips For Attending A Law Fair
1. WHO SHOULD ATTEND A LAW FAIR?
If you have any interest in going to law school one day (even if it’s years in the future), you should definitely plan on attending a law fair. If your undergraduate school, or a nearby school, is hosting a fair, make arrangements to attend. While you can (and still should) go online and do independent research on each school, a law fair brings together schools from across the country to one location. It gives you an opportunity to get your questions answered and speak directly with representatives, who are oftentimes the people reading applications and making admissions decisions. It will also give you a chance to learn about other schools and programs you may not have previously known about or even considered.
2. MAKE A PLAN OF ATTACK
Attending a law fair is a great opportunity to speak with the law schools you’re interested in applying to, all in one day. In fact, they are such great events that sometimes they can get so crowded that long lines form just to speak with a school representative. It can be crowded and overwhelming but go in with a plan.
Have a list of your top 3-5 schools you’d like to speak to before leaving. Find a map outlining the event’s layout and circle every table on your list. Make a plan of attack for how you are going to circulate the room based on the location of your desired tables.
3. PRIORITIZE OUT-OF-STATE SCHOOLS
Prioritize out-of-state schools that may be harder to get into contact with. If one of your desired schools is not local, and the line is long, be patient. Wait your turn and make sure that when it is your chance to speak that you get all of your questions answered. While the line may go down later in the day, there’s also a chance it may not and you may run out of time to speak to the schools you were most interested in.
However, if there is a long line for a local law school, you can plan to skip it and make a follow-up appointment with an advisor at the law school. You might not have this luxury with other out-of-state schools that are there, so be strategic about how you use your time. Remember that you can usually make an appointment to get a tour of a local law school and speak with an admission representative at your convenience throughout the year.
4. REMEMBER WHY SCHOOLS ARE THERE
In general, the admissions process can be intimidating. A group of law school professionals, and sometimes law professors, read your application to determine your aptitude for success in their program. Once you get deep into an admissions cycle (winter-spring), it may be harder for a prospective student to find the one-on-one time you desire with an admissions representative to answer all of your questions.
Know that the law school admissions cycle ebbs and flows. Most law school fairs take place in the fall. During this time of year, few people have applied and schools may not have started reading applications or making decisions.
Admissions representatives take the fall months to travel around the country and meet with prospective students. They traveled to your law fair and they want to talk to you. Use that to your advantage and don’t be shy about using their time to get all of your questions answered!
5. DRESS APPROPRIATELY
Smart casual or business casual is most appropriate (think jeans or khakis and a polo/sweater). Although it may be 90 degrees outside refrain from wearing your short-shorts or cut off tank tops. You certainly don’t need to be in a suit, and shouldn’t be (this isn’t an interview)! You should try to be as comfortable and confident as possible within a professional environment.
6. PLAN QUESTIONS
When attending a law fair, remember that everyone is there for you – the prospective student. If your questions aren’t answered, a law fair isn’t an effective use of your time. If you don’t know what questions to ask, you may leave more confused than when you started.
You can ask questions about the application process, median GPA/LSAT scores of incoming classes, acceptance rates, application deadlines, scholarships, bar passage rates, job placement statistics, the culture of the school… just to name a few.
Focus on asking questions that are most pertinent to your interests– whether that’s finding hands-on experience through a clinic or externship in a specific area or learning more about the ways to finance a legal education.
7. BRING A BAG TO COLLECT MATERIALS
Once you walk into a law fair, you’ll realize very quickly that you’ll be leaving with a LOT of materials. There will be stacks of brochures, handbooks, pens, pads of paper, highlighters, USBs, and more, all being thrown at you. If you’re distracted trying to figure out a way to balance the new materials in your arms and still shake someone’s hand, it can drag you down.
Be sure to bring a bag or backpack to put things in. That way, you’ll have at least one hand free to introduce yourself.
8. LEAVE THE RESUME AT HOME
Law school fairs are not like job fairs. Almost every school has done away with paper applications and transitioned to an online application. Gathering paper applications from attendees at a fair is not an efficient way of collecting and storing data.
You are attending a law fair to get your questions answered, collect information, and hopefully make some valuable first impressions. This is not the appropriate time to peddle your resume to representatives for admission to their program.
Furthermore, law fairs occur during the fall semester before some applications have even opened and before most students have applied. While it may not hurt to bring your resume along, most reps will kindly ask that you submit your resume online with your actual application, per the application instructions.
9. USE OR CREATE A PROFESSIONAL EMAIL ADDRESS
While most admissions representatives won’t collect resumes. However, they will take your name and email address to add to a listserv for prospective students.
Prior to attending a law fair, prepare a professional and simple email address. It’s easy to create a new email through Gmail and link it to an existing account. You can also decide to update the username for an existing account.
It’s usually a safe bet to go with some version of your first and last name. It may be boring but a standout email address is not the way you want to get noticed. Do not write on the signup sheet [email protected] and expect to be taken seriously.
10. FOLLOW UP
Law schools will likely follow up with you after an event (remember this is the recruitment phase of the admissions cycle). However, it never hurts to follow up with each representative you spoke with while attending a law fair. It’s a great way to build a relationship with the admissions office so that they can get to know you (and possibly even remember you) before you need to submit an application for review. It’s also a very good practice to form when you start to interview with law firms later in your legal career.
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