If you want to work at a law firm or a company that provides legal services, you should aim to come in well-prepared for your interview.
This article considers a range of law firm interview questions that candidates commonly experience.
As you learn about the type of questions you can expect and examples of good responses, you’ll be able to gain a practical advantage and set yourself up for a successful interview.
Law firm interview questions will often contain a combination of both legal reasoning questions and questions about the specific organization.
The reason why you want to work at a particular firm is one of the most important things you'll be asked in a job interview.
To answer this question successfully, you have to do your research. Look up information about the firm on their website, especially paying attention to what makes them unique. When you do so, you'll be better prepared to explain what makes you a good fit for the firm and why you chose it as your new place of employment.
This is another "statement of purpose" question that gives the interviewer insights into your background and motivation.
While there's no single right answer to this question, there are some that you should avoid. For example, saying that you became a lawyer because you like debating or because a family member is one sounds quite cliché.
A better approach is to prepare a story that provides a meaningful answer to this question. Perhaps a circumstance in your life ignited your passion for a certain cause, or your fascination in a specific area of law. Explain these reasons with details unique to your experience.
This question is a great opportunity to let your personality and interests shine. It is particularly effective to mention aspects of your law school experience that highlight your academic achievement.
Example answer: "I really enjoyed the extracurricular activities I participated in during law school, especially law review. It was a fun and intellectually stimulating experience that helped me develop strong legal research and writing skills."
This question helps the interviewer understand what you can bring to the law firm, as well as what sets you apart from other candidates. Try to keep this answer clear and succinct, and provide a specific example to back up your point.
Example answer (Legal Assistant): One of my biggest strengths is my ability to remain calm under pressure. For example, in my previous firm I was a legal assistant to two full time lawyers, and one part time. During that period, I made sure to always be prepared and maintain good communication. Though it was stressful at times, I regularly received feedback about how I managed the pressure in a very professional and calm way."
This is a question that is nerve-racking for most people, but it doesn't have to be if you're prepared. This is your chance to show the interviewer that you're able to honestly analyze yourself.
A skillful way to approach this is to talk about a weakness that you’re in the process of overcoming.
Example answer: I tend to be overly critical of myself. Whenever I complete a task I tend to look back and get fixated on the small details. Earlier in my career, this slowed down my progress. However, over the last few years, I have developed the ability to look at my achievements objectively, celebrate my wins, and move onto the next project.
It's important to take an honest look at your resume or transcript and see if there are any issues that stand out as possible weaknesses. You should then think about what caused these soft spots on your record, and be prepared to explain them.
For example: If you switched jobs a number of times before law school, you might explain that you had a hard time choosing something that really inspired or motivated you before you landed on your current career path.
According to feedback from legal recruiters, commercial awareness is one of the most important skills that a candidate can possess. Law firm interview questions will likely touch on this area at some point.
This means that you should be prepared to demonstrate your understanding of industry, regulatory, economic, and social issues, especially any that may impact a law firm and its clients.
To stay up to date, sign up to legal newsletters and set up notification alerts to receive the latest business news. Check firm websites and follow their social media accounts.
A successful legal practice requires happy clients, and making clients happy starts with building trust. So be prepared to answer questions about how you manage client relationships.
1) One of the key ways I build trust with a client is through frequent communication. If a client contacts me in any way, whether through email, phone, or a dashboard, I make sure to respond promptly. Even if I don't have the information he or she may be looking for, I quickly let them know when they can expect it from me.
2) While I strive to provide the best possible service to every client, I understand that realistically, not every outcome will be favorable.
At some point in your law career, you will have to deal with difficult clients. This question gives the interviewer an insight into your judgement and conflict resolution skills, which are important if you're going to be hired.
1) "I try to keep an eye out for potential issues at the intake stage of the relationship. I analyze the risks I may be running by agreeing to represent a difficult client. For example, if the client has had four different lawyers on the same matter over the preceding eight months, I'd likely refuse to represent the client."
2) "If I find myself dealing with a difficult client, I take the time to educate them and establish rules and expectations. These include policies for missed appointments without reasonable excuse, non-payment of retainer and treatment of staff. A breach of these policies can be cause for terminating the relationship."
3) "I have found an effective way of telling difficult clients that they cannot do something that they want to do. Instead of saying, "no," I use the "yes if; no but" method. This involves telling the client that they can do what they want, but only if certain conditions are met. Otherwise, I might point out alternative courses of action that can get the client to essentially the same position."
The interviewer’s job is to hire the best person for the position. Many candidates that make it to the interview stage are qualified for the job. However, the way you articulate your value can make all the difference.
To ensure you provide a genuine answer, prepare a few talking points, but don't memorize your entire response. Try to keep your answers straightforward to keep the hiring manager's interest. Focus on what you can bring to the company.
Example: "I understand that you need someone who can maintain strong interpersonal relationships with several different clients. I believe I’m the right fit for this role, because I care a lot about the personal outcome of my clients and do my due diligence in researching their issue to offer solutions. Additionally, my extensive experience in the legal field enables me to gather all pertinent information in order to win cases and make logical, systematic decisions."
Finally, to end this list of law firm interview questions, here are some questions you could ask the interviewer.
It's a two way process, after all. These kinds of questions will help you determine whether the job will be a good match for you:
Asking questions that are pertinent to the specific firm will show the employer that you are keenly interested in this particular job.
To have a successful interview, there are two main things to keep in mind:
First of all, take time to anticipate the types of questions likely to be asked in the interview. Use the above law firm interview questions and answers as a guide, but think through what your answers would be without “scripting” them or making them sound too rehearsed.
Secondly, remember that by asking these types of questions, interviewers are trying to evaluate how well you reason and analyze and how clearly you think and speak. Do research beforehand on the firm you’re interviewing with, and make an effort to really understand what the firm’s expectations are of you.
Additionally, many applicants have benefited from using a JobTestPrep pack which is designed to guide you through the rigorous law firm hiring process, with online practice tests and detailed answer explanations.
The prep pack actually enables you to select training for a range of specific law firms and legal service providers (e.g. Reed Smith, Holland & Knight, Winston & Strawn, etc.), which can improve your hiring chances by 73%.
Through practice and good preparation, you can ace your interview and move one step further on the path to your desired career in law.
All the best!
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