What is it like to plan a big event?

I am involved in the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA) as the VP of Professional Development. As VP, I organize the largest law firm event for the 1Ls – Meet the Firms. This event usually hosts up to twenty local and national firms and invites the entire first year class (approximately 200 students). Between organizing firms, students, and logistics details, it is a behemoth event for any individual.

What is it like planning such a large event?

First, I hope you are organized and meticulous. Excel is my best friend, and without it, I may not have been able to keep up with all the small tasks along the way. Second, you need to become quite friendly with the Student Affairs team, Career Development Office, and SGA. While I am the primary person on my board to plan this event, it does take a team to help all the cogs work together. You must be polite, and clear in your communications with the various individuals from Student Affairs, Custodial Services, Catering, or any other department with which you need to work. Also, never be afraid to take the extra step to be clear and neat. For instance, I handwrote the floor plan for the ballroom and it was not my neatest attempt. I decided to open PDF and input text boxes to clearly indicate which firm was at which table and how many chairs for each table. This helped custodial services clearly see (and not have to guess from my handwriting) what needed to be done. Finally, you need to have a strategy before you even start planning the event. Meet the Firms is an established event and successfully finished its 11th year. The previous decade of experience and templates and examples to refer to helped guide my planning.

Even if you are not interested in law firms, the panel gives you a perspective on legal hiring practices in general (how to dress, how to carry yourself in an interview, and what are red flags in an interview) and the networking reception allows you an opportunity to meet recruiters, attorneys, and other firm personnel to practice networking and approaching legal professionals. If you want to plan an event similar to Meet the Firms, you want to consider why and what the event is meant to provide for students, what type of event (e.g. is it a panel or reception), what time and place, where is your funding, and will you serve food? If you recall one of my previous posts, food is the law school currency. An evening event without food is inviting cranky and hungry attendees, so while it is not necessary, it may be wise.

Finally, even after you lose some sleep, stress out, and almost pull all your hair out juggling planning the event and your own school workload, the event’s success boils down to how much you are willing to dedicate to it.

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