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When I completed my vacation schemes I absolutely dreaded the drinks receptions that were put on for the summer students. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried I always got stuck talking to the dullest person and then couldnt get rid of them.
These days Im a seasoned cocktail partygoer and am slowly beginning to master the art of small talk. Seriously, your behaviour at a drinks party is just as important as your performance during the rest of the vacation scheme. So here are a few pointers on how to create the right impression.
If possible, try to find out in advance which partners are going to make an appearance and then spend a bit of time doing some research on them. They will expect you to know something about them for instance, details of the recent deals theyve handled. You should also read the business pages of the national and legal press to keep up-to-date with the latest talking points in the City.
Other nifty questions to lob casually at partners might include:
Would you consider floating your firm or private equity investment when regulations allow?
Would you consider opening an office in India if and when the legal market there is liberalised?
Ask litigators about how they think the BCCI working party will solve the supercase inefficiency problem.
Ask corporate partners whether they think the economic boom will continue into 2008 and for extra Brownie points mention the rise and rise of private equity in public M&A deals.
Whatever you do, however, dont talk shop all night because youll risking turning into that dull person I was referring to at the start of this newsletter. Most of the lawyers Ive come across love talking about sport so keep up-to-date with the latest comings and goings at Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, unless youre feeling brave, dont ask Allen & Overy partners about the firms merger approach to magic circle rival Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer last summer and dont ask Freshfields lawyers about prospects in the firms banking department.