There is one question you can expect during every law firm job interview: Do you have any questions for me?
Your answer should always be “yes.”
Coming prepared with questions demonstrates your interest in the firm and commitment to your career. Plus, this part of the interview is a valuable opportunity for you to learn more about the firm and assess whether it’s the best fit for your long-term goals and personality.
Brainstorm questions that touch upon your career priorities, biggest concerns, and the areas about which you need additional information. Also be sure to tailor your questions based on the person who is interviewing you. (For example, you probably wouldn’t ask a senior partner how he sees his career progressing at the firm.) Try to be creative with your questions and shape them in a way that will elicit unique details, such as asking an associate about her experiences with a particular initiative rather than asking broadly about the initiative itself.
Below are some sample questions to help you dig deeper into a law firm during an interview.
Summer Associate Program
How do summer associates receive assignments? Are they assigned to practice areas, are they unassigned and able to obtain work across practice areas, or do they rotate?
Does a coordinator oversee work assignments, or is there a free-market system?
How similar are summer-associate assignments to those of first-year associates? Can you provide some examples of substantive work that summers have completed?
These questions will give you insight into the types of work you will receive as a summer, how substantive that work is, how the work experience compares to the real junior-attorney experience, and how the assigning system operates.
Integration Into Associate Life
How do new associates select their practice areas? Does an associate have a choice over his/her practice area, or is it assigned based on firm needs?
What kind of training is offered to junior associates, and how is it scheduled throughout the first year or two?
Does the firm have any formal mentoring in place, and if so, how does it work?
These questions will offer a glimpse into the on-boarding process and how much support and guidance is offered to new attorneys.
Why did you choose this firm?
What has been the most surprising aspect of practice at this firm?
What programs or initiatives do you think set the firm apart from others in terms of career development?
How do you see your career progressing at the firm? (For associate interviewers)
These questions will offer a glimpse into your interviewer’s personal experience at the firm.
How would you describe the firm’s social culture?
What characteristics do you think the firm most values in its attorneys?
If you could pick three words to summarize the firm’s culture, what would they be?
These questions will help you uncover the firm’s cultural vibe and atmosphere, as well as the types of personalities that walk the halls.
What do you think the firm’s most useful training opportunity is?
Does the firm offer any outside training opportunities?
What kind of training would you advise junior associates to do to set themselves up for success at the firm?
These questions will provide insight into the most valuable training opportunities and the type of training available.
Practice-Area Specific Questions
How leanly are cases staffed?
What are junior associates' roles on the case teams?
How much partner interaction is there on cases?
Through these questions, you can explore the culture of your target practice group, including the expectations for junior attorneys in the group.
Pro Bono Work
Do pro bono hours count toward the billable requirement, and if so, how many?
Does the firm have a formal pro bono coordinator?
Can associates bring in outside pro bono matters?
These questions help you explore how much the firm prioritizes pro bono and how much autonomy is permitted with such matters.
Have you participated in any of the firm’s diversity programming?
What do you think are the firm’s most effective diversity programs?
How communicative is the firm regarding its diversity programming?
These questions will help you gauge the firm’s commitment to diversity and how much the diversity programming permeates through the firm.
The questions you ask during a law firm job interview will largely depend on your priorities and career interests. Whatever questions you choose, make sure to be thoughtful about them. These questions are a window into your preparation and thought process.
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