Milkround season is in full swing, and many would-be lawyers are (wisely) attending law fairs to get a better picture of what particular firms are looking for in candidates. From my own
experience as a student and later as a trainee rep for my firm, here's some advice.
DO try to get a feel for what a firm is really like. If trainees / associates are attending, ask questions that are important to you:
"How much responsibility do you actually get?"
"What is a typical day in the office like?"
"How often do you meet with or talk to clients?"
"How flexible is HR about accommodating your seat choices?"
"What's the most interesting work you'v done so far?"
"What's the worst thing about your job?"
"Are there any seats you have to do?"
You're not there to ask them for the vacation scheme deadline - it's on their website. Ask something meaningful, that either helps you get a feel for the firm, or can be used in your application ("I spoke to current trainee Mike Smith at the Exeter Law Fair and I was really impressed by...").
DON'T just grab stuff. Yes, law firms hand out loads of ballpoint pens, sweets, highlighters and bags at these events. They are happy for you to help yourself if you are genuinely interested in the firm. If you're not interested, jog on. It makes a terrible impression, and you don't know who might be watching.
DO remember that you may be talking to your future employer. You don't necessarily need to wear a suit, but you should try to look neat and presentable, and greet whoever you're speaking to with a handshake (and your name). Try to show that you know something about the firm, too - a very general "What kind of work does your firm do?" is very long-winded to answer and shows that you haven't done your research / aren't particularly interested.
DO follow up when appropriate. Students often approach with quite specific questions, or requests for sponsorship of student groups or events. If you have spoken to someone (especially someone involved in recruitment) and want to make a good impression, make a note of their name and follow up with a short email, and possibly a follow-up question. You'll look very proactive.
It's fine to go to these events to pick up a few brochures and expose yourself to employers you might be interested in (typically, first year university students can't apply for training contracts even if they want to). Try to use the opportunity though - ask questions that matter to you, and get comfortable talking to HR folk.