Your ability to answer interview questions in a clear and thoughtful way is what will set you apart from your peers. Here are some common questions that interviewers love to ask, along with our suggestions on how to answer them. There’s no “right” answer, but there are good answers.
1) Why law school?
It’s important to have a clear and compelling reason (i.e., not “my parents are lawyers” or “I like Law & Order”). Try to communicate a narrative about who you are and why you’re interested in law school. We recommend highlighting 1-2 points about a career in law that aligns with your strengths and interests. For example: “I’ve always been interested in technology and startups — I had a tech startup in college and learned how important legal implications were on the business. I think a career in emerging companies work would align well with my strengths and interests.”
If you are not so sure about what you’d like to specialize in, you can still use a strong answer that is more open-ended, such as: “I’ve always enjoyed solving interesting and challenging problems. I find it a satisfying and fun – from speaking with attorneys, I’ve heard that this is a large part of the job and makes a good lawyer in any practice area. So, I thought law school would be a great career path for me.”
2) Why are you interested in our firm?
All law firms are not the same (even if they seem like it right now!). Take the time to research each firm in advance and have 2-3 tailored bulletpoints prepared about each firm. We recommend thinking holistically about the firm — the substantive work, the clients, the commitment to diversity and pro bono, etc. Bonus: If you have a contact at the firm, definitely mention that (e.g., “X person told me about [insert really great thing about the firm], which I thought was great”).
This can be tough especially during OCI, where you might interview with dozens of firms in 2-3 days. By preparing specific bulletpoints for each firm in advance and reviewing them briefly before the interview, you will be ready to answer this question effectively.
3) How was 1L?
Even if you hated 1L (we hope not!), stay positive. Highlight 2-3 points that you enjoyed — e.g. meeting interesting people or learning substantive concepts. If you have a favorite class or professor, mention it and explain why! If there is something you did not like about 1L, there is also a way to frame it positively and show your strengths, such as: “The system of being tested one on exam is not my preference, but I made sure to be flexible adjust my studying habits based on that.”
Many students answer about their 1L negatively, thinking that a hatred of the busy 1L year will resonate with all lawyers and add humor (”Oh, well nobody really likes 1L… am I right…”). But, the reality is that negativity reflects poorly on the student and the interviewer might come away from the interview thinking that the student will just feel negatively about the firm’s challenging legal work too.
4) Tell me about your current 1L job.
Pretend that the interview doesn’t know anything about your 1L job. Start by briefly explaining where you worked, what the organization does, and what your role was. Then, highlight 2-3 specific points that you worked on – specificity is great to make the interview more interesting and help you stand out. It’s great if they are related to the role you’re interested in at the firm, but they don’t have to be. Your goal should be to showcase the skills and strengths that you will make a valuable member of the firm.
5) What type of work are you interested?
If you know what you’re interested in, then great — you can clearly communicate that you’re interested in XYZ and highlight your reasons. Maybe a prior professional experience, a class you took, or just a general passion for a certain industry.
If you don’t know what you’re interested in, no problem. You are not expected to have made up your mind, so don’t feel pressured to make something up just to please the interviewer!
You just finished your 1L year, a lot of which is spent reading very old cases and arguing over topics that would never come up in actual legal practice.
You you can mention that you’re undecided but that you’re looking forward to keeping an open mind and learning what you enjoy, and that the interview process is also giving you good insight into different practice areas. You can also consider highlighting that you enjoy learning new things and pick things up quickly.