University of Birmingham Law for Non-Law Society
Christmas Networking Evening

Rav Sandhu

The germ of ambition coursing through human cells propagates a number of adverse effects. Symptoms include insight days, skills sessions, and networking events being on your social calendar. Strain of targets ache upon your pre-frontal lobe, competitive instincts grip your adrenal gland and you begrudgingly accept that you’ve now joined that boisterous rank of wannabe trainees calculatedly sprawling their way into the legal world. The path we’ve embarked on is chaotic, so the blissful moments of order along the way are to be cherished. Last year I had the pleasure of attending a Christmas Networking event at the Slug & Lettuce. Nice place, nice ambience, and of course most very nice free champagne to greet you with.  Firms attending included Eversheds, Bond Pearce, Burges Salmon, Wragge & Co, Martineau, and DLA Piper. How you use a networking day is up to you. There’s the opportunity to make contacts, to prise out information on the process, possibly score some hints, or even just work on those all-important networking skills. Sagely career minded people stress very clearly we take full advantage of these.

I, feeling slightly under-dressed I hasten to add, sipped and talked to a lovely graduate recruitment lady from DLA Piper to kick things off. She told me about the firm, I listened intently, and then the levees of curiosity broke. I had many a question, and her saintly patience granted me many an answer. After wading the members entangled in conversation with the firms, dining occurred, and a moment was not wasted for further networking fun. Wine flowed, and I had the opportunity to speak to a trainee from Bond Pearce. Her week, she told me, was more or less going to be spent socialising with prospective trainees at similar events dotted around here and there. Being within thirty centimetres of four bottles of wine this schedule sounded wonderful, I thought. She answered more questions and offered words of reassurance too, which was nice. The great thing about these kinds of events organised by the L4NL society is they make the career we have chosen to pursue more accessible, in the sense that from speaking to trainees who we ourselves seek to emulate and from hearing about their progression. You begin to see yourself in their shoes. It’s useful to have access to this given the difficulty and competitiveness of a career in the law, so networking events are usually time well spent. An improved knowledge of the application process was imparted on me; I planted the seeds for the development of my networking skills, and gained a higher blood alcohol percentage. Good clean fun was had by all, and long may the institution of networking thrive. I only hope members of our society don the trainee badge and espouse their existential wisdom to us in due course.

Baker & McKenzie Negotiation Workshop

image Samuel Lear, Vice President -

Baker & McKenzie have managed to unite the Birmingham branches of the Law Society and the Law for Non-Law Society twice this term already. The first saw a gathering of twenty people at the Malmaison Hotel for a wonderful evening in the company of trainees and graduate recruiters who went above and beyond the call of duty to make us all feel welcome – which included a trip to a nearby bar talking with us until the early hours of the morning!

Last week saw three of their trainees come on to campus to run a negotiation workshop. With around eighteen of us, we were separated into four teams (of two sides) and were given a brief to read, digest and to formulate a position on behalf of our client’s wishes. Each team went head-to-head with the other side and we were given half an hour to try to reach an agreement. Neither side managed to do so in time although both meetings were close to a settlement. It was an exercise that tested our ability to work as a team, to grasp the bigger picture and the minute details of what was being discussed, and to understand the position of the other side. Everyone left the room better negotiators but perhaps more importantly, learnt a fair bit about themselves too.

Baker & McKenzie made it a fun and friendly atmosphere and have once again provided one of the most enjoyable events that we have been treated to so far this year. I am sure that I speak on behalf of all who attended when I extend our heartfelt thanks to them.

Baker & McKenzie Networking Evening

image Samuel Lear, Vice President -

For a self-confessed careerist final year student, the commencement of the academic year doesn’t just bring about dissertation worries. With application windows approaching in earnest, taking an eye off the ball can easily lead to weeks flying by without noticing. This is a trap that so many students fall into, and even as I am writing this, emails are flying in from law firms reminding me that I have yet to submit my applications.

Whilst being heavily involved with the Law for Non-Law Society should serve as a constant reminder of my proverbial ‘to do’ list, it is perhaps at the stage where I am so immersed into the running of the society, that the services it actually offers lose all meaning. Nevertheless, it does have its benefits, and I was one of a lucky twenty-or-so people who were invited to an evening with the prestigious international law firm, Baker & McKenzie.

It was an evening that exceeded high expectations. Aside from the fact that the evening was hosted at a luxury hotel in the city centre, we were received with champagne and were treated to a sumptuous three—course dinner. However, those who attended agree with me when they conclude that the pleasantries paled in comparison to our initial experience with the firm itself.

Those who are used to open days and law fairs are well accustomed to the ‘party line’ treaded by their representatives, which are so suspiciously similar that it is very difficult to find salient qualities between them. The lawyers from Baker & McKenzie, some of whom are only a year or two ahead of us, were well aware of this and were very human and honest about the challenges that we face as undergraduates looking to break through. The evening was not much about Baker & McKenzie as a firm, but about lawyers and future lawyers engaging in conversation and sharing experiences. With this, Baker & McKenzie sold itself.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect was that the evening did not stop after the meal, and they went beyond the call of duty to offer us drinks at a local bar. Many of the lawyers I spoke to had a 9am start in London the following morning, but they had no second thoughts about devoting their evening (until the very early hours of the morning) to talking with us – offering guidance, stories, and perhaps even more commonly, discussions about outside interests!

Before the evening, the focus of my applications have been about ‘getting into a law firm’ where the choice is of secondary importance. The evening revealed the human element behind the application process and I very much look forward to submitting my application to Baker & McKenzie in due course.