The single most important way to prepare for law firm interviews is to practice answering mock interview questions. You should, of course, have some lines prepared for standard questions like, “Why did you go to law school?” and “Why are you interested in this firm specifically?” But it is also important to be comfortable answering questions on the spot—and practicing interview questions will help you do just that.
As you prepare for your next legal interview, it’s useful to understand the types of questions law firms ask and include them as you practice. Each year, in Vault’s Annual Associate Survey, we ask law firm associates to share questions their firms ask during the recruiting process. Below are some examples from associates who work at the top 10 firms in the 2021 Vault Law 100—the most prestigious law firms.
“Tell us about yourself.”
“Why law? Why our firm? Why this practice area?”
“What are your career goals?”
“Why do you want to work in [this location]?”
“What kind of law do you think you want to do and why?”
“What kinds of work experience (or journal/teaching assistant experience) are you bringing to the table and how do you think that will help you?”
“Tell me about this experience on your resume.”
“The firm will ask a candidate about a legal issue the candidate has worked with in law school or a 1L summer job to make sure the candidate has the basic ability to articulate and work through legal issues.”
“My personal favorite: Other than Korematsu, what Supreme Court case do you think was decided incorrectly?”
“What do you think truth is?”
“What are you long-term goals?”
“What makes you think you could work at a place like [this firm]?”
“What [are you] hoping to gain from working here?”
“Are you comfortable working in a free-market system?”
“What skills do you have now, and which would you like to develop more?”
“What are you writing your Note on?”
“What's your favorite class?”
“What extracurriculars have you been involved with in law school?”
“What is a legal topic that currently interests you?”
“What do you do for fun?”
“Why should we hire you?”
“Why are you choosing [this firm’s] corporate practice over all other corporate practices?”
“Tell me about a time you have worked hard to achieve a goal.”
Also, remember, the questions you ask during the interview are just as important as your responses to any questions asked of you. Be sure to prepare a list of thoughtful, well-researched questions for each interview. As one associate shared in our survey, “I think the firm expects the candidates to come into the interview with thoughtful questions that can speak to the candidate's particular interest in the firm.”
Best of luck!
A “day in the life” of a law firm summer associate looked a little different in 2020 because life was a little different in 2020.
Lawyers and law firms always need to be adept at adapting, whether to new regulations, surprising evidence, or evolving business trends, but the pandemic presented unique challenges.
An ever-increasing number of firms are utilizing behavioral interview assessments to identify the best candidates, while simultaneously reducing implicit bias, during on-campus and callback interviews. At its core, behavioral interviewing is a technique in which interviewers ask candidates to give specific examples of past behaviors that they believe are predictive of certain job-relevant skills and competencies.
If you have your sights set on starting your career in BigLaw, you likely have clear expectations for your summer associate experience. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced change, including to summer associate programs and their accompanying interview processes, and it might seem intimidating to ask about these changes while doing your pre-interview employer research.
If you are a 1L, don't miss this chance to hear from experts at top law firms as they discuss legal careers, law school advice, and diversity initiatives!
It’s never too early to start planning for your legal career—even if you are only in the first semester of your 1L year.