Abbott Stillman & Wilson (ASW) is unlikely to attend next year’s Melbourne law graduate careers expo after being disappointed with the attitude of many of the students in attendance last week.
Held in the Town Hall on Wednesday 17 September, the fair attracted double the number of expected attendees. A final door count of 1,487 was registered with chaos abounding as firms ran out of their show bags, but not everyone agreed that high numbers were the best measure of success.
Heidi Bryden, marketing manager of ASW, said she was disappointed by the attitude of many of the students she spoke with on the night and questioned the value of the event.
“A lot of the top students already know where they want to go so they don’t even turn up,” she said. “Some of the students say to you, ‘I don’t even know if I want to do law but tell me about your articles program’.”
Bryden suggested the students should be prepped about the attitude they should be showing rather than approaching the firms with “naïve arrogance”.
Bryden said that mid-tier firms aren’t able to dedicate the same amount of “wooing time” to applicants that top-tier firms are able to. Her firm receives between 200 to 300 applications each year for its four articled clerk positions and she believes personality of applicants is more important in smaller firms. “They have to be able to interact well with our clients, as people. In a large firm it’s easier to hide,” she said.
Bryden concluded by intimating to Lawyers Weekly that it was unlikely the mid-tier firm would front up again next year.
Organiser of this year’s event, Melbourne University law student Christine Huynh, believed that numbers alone proved the event to be a great success. “All the firms seemed happy with the turn out,” she said.
Huynh, in consultation with her fellow law students, said the most popular show bags on the night were Herbert Geer & Rundle with their two-for-one movie voucher, Maurice Blackburn Cashman with its beanies and yoyos and Corrs Chambers Westgarth with its coffee mugs.
Helen Kuo, who represented Herbert Geer & Rundle on the night, said there was a diverse range of students with a noticeably differing level of knowledge about the firms and savvy about the articles recruitment process. “Some students could have been better prepared with questions to leverage the knowledge of the people made available to them from the different firms,” she said.
Common questions from students included information relating to the firm’s practice areas, how to apply for a job, work-life balance, what the firm looks for in a candidate and some details about training opportunities and the law firm’s culture, said Kuo.
Young Lawyers representative Jaqui Boymal said the Law Institute was happy with the feedback it received from students about the careers fair. Boymal said the Law Institute hosts a number of events and produces annual publications to assist students through the articles application process, which officially commences early next year for the 2005 intake.
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