The Russell Hotel, 11th February 2015. All the essentials in place for a good day. Wifi. Tick. Black coffee. Tick. Comfy chair. Tick. Some great speakers. Tick. Decent lunch. Tick.
So what happened? Here’s a quick run-down. I’m sure I haven’t done justice to many of the speakers (so if you were one of them and you’d like to add something, please shout. Happy to update.) Overall, a few key themes came across:
Diversity – lots of talk about opening up access, better representation, unconscious bias, blind CV assessment and the drive by clients for firms with greater diversity.
Stories – no, not just because we talked about it, but because stories in all shapes and forms help to open people’s eyes to the world of law and open up the profession.
Social – mentioned throughout the day, culminating in a great presentation by Samantha Hope from Shoosmiths. Interestingly very few of the audience were tweeting through the seminar.
But here’s a bit more of detail around each of the presentations/discussions:
Norton Rose Fulbright (Caroline Lindner) – Caroline covered the journey in her career, her time at Norton Rose and how they continue to attract the very best trainees. Some interesting insights – not least that 55 trainees is a target but they will only recruit that number if they find the right people. It’s now a ‘trainee market rather than a firm market’ – signalling how the best students can now pick and choose firms. Finally, I was fascinated by the McLaren competition, which looking for teams of 4 (2 law students and 2 non-law) from across unis to complete a commercial project set by NRF lawyers.
Storytelling (Henry Davies and Jess Booker) – We talked about the power of storytelling to engage potential trainees, challenging some of the traditions of student recruitment (branding, representation, facts and stats, even language) and then focused on how storytelling and advocacy can be powerful in reaching your audience – and in particular a more diverse group of potential trainees.
Aspiring Solicitors (Chris White and Funke Abimbola) – Before this day, I knew nothing of Aspiring Solicitors, their story and their mission. Now I’m a convert – and for Chris to give up his career as a solicitor with Norton Rose Fulbright and set up this organisation was truly inspiring. Not least because they’ve helped over 180 students this year alone in their quest to become lawyers. Then there was Funke, a black woman and mother, who shared her experience of working in private practice and now in-house. Amazing.
University of Law (Morette Jackson and Alan Woods) – I thought that this would be the least interesting session of the day. Not because of the presenters (they were very good), but because of the subject matter. But actually this was an eye-opener. Especially the piece on Apprenticeships. I hadn’t appreciated the extent to which this could change entry to the profession.
Shoosmiths and Social Media (Samantha Hope) – A presentation full of energy to end the day! Sam shared some personal experiences (boyfriend, brands and vegan cooking!) and professional insights. Interesting to hear about the range of social channels Shoosmiths use, as well as how she measures success. Although be good to hear more about direct correlation between social engagement and hiring…
The day also finished on time…which is always a bonus! And special thanks to Simon Nash from Carey Olsen who chaired the meeting exceptionally well, including a short and therapeutic period of mindfulness…