Luring tomorrow’s legal stars

Graduate recruitment campaigns are moody and minimal this season

Law fair season is here and graduate recruitment teams across the UK are grudgingly getting up at ungodly hours to schlep off to Exeter and other far-flung university towns to pimp their firms to the nation’s students.

Success largely depends on how firms brand themselves, but it’s a difficult game. Too conservative and you won’t stick in the mind of a preoccupied undergrad; too wacky and you’ll attract mockery. Should you go with an elaborate freebie or are branded pens a safer bet?

Given the perils, it’s not surprising that firms have followed the herd. A few years ago ads featuring smiling, normal trainees were in (SNR Denton’s brooding stud being a notable exception). 

But that trend has passed, with minimalist, slogan-based ads now in vogue – to the extent that Clifford Chance and Burges Salmon’s campaigns look eerily similar, even down to the font.

All of which makes RPC’s recent win in the Best Trainee Recruitment Campaign category at The Lawyer Management Awards more impressive. Its Manifesto campaign is bold without being cheesy. And RPC has a good record. Its previous grad rec offering was a photo comic strip featuring puzzled students. Sounds cringeworthy? It worked.

Maybe firms should be less cautious when wooing students. Getting a campaign right can pay off big-time – RPC’s applications have jumped by 35 per cent. And if you get it wrong – well, Oscar Wilde’s old saw about being talked about springs to mind.