Interview Preparation tips for Law Graduates
- May 20, 2022
1. Do your research.
Lawyers are known for being good researchers. You spent countless hours in law school researching and scrutinizing information. Before every interview, know who you will be speaking with and research their background. Find them on LinkedIn, and conduct a light Google search to find any commonalities between you and your interviewer(s). Note down their accomplishments, awards, and accolades. Bringing it up during your interviews will show them you took the time to get to know who they truly are and gives them a sneak peek into your research capabilities.
On top of knowing the interviewers, walk into your interview with a deep understanding of the firm itself. After all, this is where you plan to dedicate your next several years. Having a good understanding of the firm’s founding story and partners will give you a good sense of the culture the firm builds.
Know what role in the firm you would have if you got the job. Knowing this in great detail will help you craft your narrative on where you want to take your career and how the firm closely aligns with your goals.
2. Be presentable and dress your best.
A Solicitors core job is to represent their clients, and coming to your interview polished and presentable bodes well. First impressions are powerful, and making it extremely important to you as you prepare for an interview will heighten your chances of being well received by your interviewers. The good news is law fashion has loosened up over the years.
3. Come prepared to ask questions.
What kind of lawyer would you be if you were not naturally curious and thorough? Let your curious nature shine through during your interview by coming prepared with well-thought-out and intelligent questions. Avoid questions that are related to your personal benefit. For example, don’t talk about money, vacation time, billable-hour logistics, and other related questions.
Think big picture and ask about the successes of the firm, where the firm is headed, and how you can contribute to their growth. Promote positivity in the interview and avoid any negative sentiment. If they were in the press for a controversial case, avoid bringing up uncomfortable topics that could sour moments in your interview.
4. Be personable and show enthusiasm.
Good Solicitors know how to build relationships. It starts with trust and one way to build trust is to be personable and get to know your audience. Show interest and enthusiasm for meeting your interviewers. They are taking time out of their busy days and their billable hours to meet with you.
Show respect by fully engaging in the conversation. Show up on time or early even. Being late is the kiss of death in the interview world. Be polite and courteous to support staff, such as secretaries, front desk receptionists, and other non-attorney staff. No need to come across as pretentious in the interview or ever for that matter.
5. Be genuine.
Repeat after me: Never, EVER, lie in an interview. There is no quicker way to bomb an interview than by starting to tell lies—even little white lies.
If you are invited to lunch during your interview day, don’t let your guard down. Those lunches are often strategically placed in the interview process to test how you interact in a casual setting. Be your usual genuine self, stay professional, and represent yourself just as polished over lunch as you would in an interview room. The same goes for virtual interviewing.
Sample interview questions and answers
Review these sample interview questions and answers to form your own responses:
Why do you want to practice law?
This question allows you to talk about what attracted you to the legal field. Your answer to this question can position you as the best person for the role and can provide the hiring partner with a glimpse of the knowledge and experience you can bring to the job. Employers want to hear how important this field is for you, so show your genuine interest in law when providing an answer.
Example: “I want to practice law because I’m passionate about bringing justice to clients and upholding the law of our country. I believe it’s important to be fair and unbiased, and I’d like to help someone experience that in their case. Being an attorney is more than filing paperwork with the court—it’s a chance to represent someone who needs help.”
What are your strengths as a lawyer?
Employers want to know your strengths so they can see how you could work with their current team. Since your strengths are unique, you can use your response to stand out from other candidates. Answer this question by relating your strengths to the job you’re applying for and the tasks you expect to be responsible for. Use the STAR technique to give a specific example of your strengths.
Example: “One of my biggest strengths is perseverance. I once represented a client who filed a suit against their employer for failing to pay for injuries they sustained while on the job. It was a difficult case to gather evidence since no employees claimed to witness the accident and there was no video footage. After performing some in-depth research and interviewing several employees, I was able to find out that there was a delivery driver present who corroborated my client’s story. Thankfully, we were able to settle quickly after that.”
What do you want your clients to know about you?
This question helps a hiring partner understand more about your client relations. Think about how you want a client to feel after an interaction with you in the office or courtroom. Consider what attributes you have and how you work that makes a client happy to have you represent them. Employers want to make sure that you treat clients well and represent their law firm in a positive light.
Example: “I want my clients to know that I’ll work hard in their case because they matter to me. I care a lot about their personal outcome and do my due diligence in researching their issue to offer solutions, file the appropriate paperwork and represent them in disputes. My clients should know that I am their advocate, and they can be honest with me about their situation and take comfort in the fact that I’m providing a safe space for them.”
Describe your approach in the courtroom.
How you perform in the courtroom can be the determining factor in winning your case. Answering this question is your chance to share how you interact with members of the court, present your case and represent your client. Give a detailed, step-by-step answer that shows exactly how you prepare and work in a courtroom.
Example: “Either the night before or the morning of a case, I study all of my notes so I’m fully prepared for the trial. I make sure any witnesses or evidence I need to present are confirmed. I usually take an aggressive stance during proceedings so my client gets fair representation. When the opposing side is presenting, I take thorough notes so I can counter effectively.”
Law firm interview tips
Here are some interview tips to consider so you can present yourself well to the hiring partner:
- Familiarise yourself with recent court rulings.
- Research the law firm.
- Bring examples of papers you’ve written.
Research the law firm
Especially if the law firm is well established in the community, the partners want to make sure you will continue to bring good representation to them. It’s important to show that you have researched the firm and are excited to work there. You’ll also be able to better explain what makes you a good fit for the firm and why you chose it as your new place of employment.
Bring examples of papers you’ve written
A large component of working at a law firm is being able to articulate your case in a clear, concise and professional way. Hiring partners may want to see evidence of your writing, so bring some examples. This could include court documents you have prepared, an extensive legal research paper you wrote in school or a legal memo.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal IT personnel to Practice Managers.
Whether you are building your legal team or are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.