Tips for litigation paralegal interviews.

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Host

Do you have any tips to help prepare for an upcoming litigation paralegal interview?

Are there common interview questions that come up again and again?

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

81 months ago

Host said: Do you have any tips to help prepare for an upcoming litigation paralegal interview?

Are there common interview questions that come up again and again?

I have run into the following common interview questions:

Tell me about yourself?
What classes did you take in school?
What is your worst quality?
Do you know how to e-file?

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Jane Do Girl in Milton, Florida

78 months ago

Some common questions I would ask as a prospective employee:

1. What are their billable hours requirements? (Have them break it down yearly, monthly, and daily - so you're very clear on this) Do they have a bonus system tied to exceeding those quotas?
2. What kind of Time Keeping system do they use - manual v. electronic? Who will input your time?
3. Do they use case or practice management software - which one?
4. Do the paralegals have secretarial/clerical help?
5. Will you be in a paralegal 'pool' or assigned to a (or several) specific attorney?
6. Do they have electronic document management procedures - what are they?
7. What percentage of your time will be spent drafting/responding to discovery v. legal research and drafting motions/memoranda of law?
8. Do they have an orientation/training for you to get oriented to the firm and way of doing things?
9. Do they have a Paralegal Manager in addition to the Firm Administrator? If not, does the Firm Administrator have a legal background? How knowledgeable is the Firm Admin. about the paralegal profession and relevant issues?
10. Do they have a formal system in place for paralegal development and/or education?
11. Will they pay or reimburse for CLE courses, advanced certification, or even additional paralegal college credit courses? What are the requirements for this?
12. Do they encourage and/or pay for membership and participation in the local paralegal association?
13. Ask about the attorneys you may be working for; how organized are they, are they micro-managers, or more apt to allow you a degree of independence in managing your work load?
14. How flexible are they? Will they allow you to remote in and work from home if you need to stay home w/sick kids, etc.?
15. Get detailed info on their insurance benefits.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

77 months ago

Jane Do Girl in Milton, Florida said: Some common questions I would ask as a prospective employee:

1. What are their billable hours requirements? (Have them break it down yearly, monthly, and daily - so you're very clear on this) Do they have a bonus system tied to exceeding those quotas? .

Good Comment Jane Do Girl: I was a Paralegal for 10 years. (about 3 in Miami, FL- really liked the Miami weather) Anyway, when I interviewed for a Paralegal job, in Philadelphia, I found out it was a billable hour job. [Basically, I do not accepted these jobs because I do not want the hours] I asked about the billable hours - when I had the interview with the 2 [obnoxious] female paralegals. They were a piece of work. ALL they would say was the number of hours. repeadedly. In essence, would not answer the question. THat was a turn-off and at that point I did not want the job - but I continued with the interview with the attorneys. Bottom line. Never gave me the information I was seeking. By then, I was no longer interestd in this job, no matter what the pay. If they cannot or will not give me necessary information on the billable hours questions or any information except the number of hours - when I look back- that was a huge RED Flag. There was no way I would get roped into that- the paralegals were so funny- going on and on about how the attorneys treated them like professionals. I laugh, while they work their backsides off with all the billable hours. VERY good question to ask - if billable hours are the job. I have only had 9-5 or 9-6 jobs.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

69 months ago

kmm in Wilmington, Delaware said: A competency-based interviewer . CONT'd.
Your Story Strategy

The best way for an interviewer to get answers to the questions above is for you, the interviewee, to take the initiative. You should have several personal stories that you can tell as examples of your successes, and each story should last between 30 to 90 seconds.You should start by developing your stories around these areas:

Examples of when you either made money or saved money for your current or previous employer.

A crisis in your life or job and how you responded or recovered from it.

A time where you functioned as part of a team and what your contribution was.

A time in your career or job where you had to overcome stress.

A time in your job where you provided successful leadership or a sense of direction.

A failure that occurred in your job and how you overcame it.

Any seminal events that happened during your career to cause you to change direction and how that worked out for you.Actions speak louder than words. Your actions in the past -- relayed in story form -- will tell a company much more than any generic response. Your stories will give the interviewer the tangible examples he or she seeks, and they will convey a very strong sense of your individuality, making you stand out more.

THis is how to impress your perspectve employer.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

69 months ago

Asking the right questions can also demonstrate your ability to think strategically, and help you decide if the position is right for you. To that end, Stagg suggests ending the interview with this question: "What are you looking for in a candidate to fill this role?" If the answer turns out to be something that doesn't match your expectations, then you need to speak up.

Many candidates are so intimidated by the interview, they forget that the interviewer has a stake in seeing the candidate succeed. Peter Ackerson describes his attitude going into an interview as one of "hopeful skepticism."

They don't want you to fail; they want you to show them why you will succeed with their company. The sooner they hire you, the sooner the search can end.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

69 months ago

So here I am at the Paralegal interview at the Big Firm, in front of the Big Department Partners, and the first statement is [I was being interviewed for corporate law position] I DO NOT SEE ANY CORPORATE EXPERIENCE ON YOUR RESUME. [my experience was litigation]

Here is information on how to handle that situation:

Emphasise other characteristics that are desirable for the role and don't shout about your lack of experience.

If you get an interview, you are in a strong position to justify why they should consider you. - SOMEHOW, you have to impress them with your skills learned, that you can do this job.

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Grant013 in New York, New York

69 months ago

Kmm, these are all great tips for interviews.They are not only applicable in the paralegal field but also outside of it.I am seeking salaried work right now outside legal and will use many of your suggestions during my own search.I feel that once somebody "passes" (succeeds)an interview with attorneys, that person can pretty much pass an interview with anyone other kind of employer.Thanks again!!

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

69 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said:

Also ask if you'll be tested and don't believe it if you are told no. By preparing thoroughly you'll be familiar with the firm, not feel like a stranger, and feel less nervous during your interview.

DLP- Good information. Martindale-Hubble is on Lawyer.com.

Test- written or oral? I did have a written test to take at a Bank for a position in the Trust & Estates department. I knew most of the answeres, I think. I had a lot of it still in my head, but I was not really prepared for a test. They never told me about my test resuts. NOr, did I get the job. I got caught by surprise on the test.

I had an interview for a Bankrupty position at a big firm. At that time, I had bought the Bankruptcy law book for paralegals, and read it, yellow high-lighted it. Anyhoo-at the interview, the Partner did quizz me on terminolgy. I was only half-accced prepared for that. EX- Do you know what a lien is. I gave examples such as a mortgage. BUT I was blurting them out, as my mind went into roller dex warp speed mode. NO- I did not get that job.

I was face-to- face grilled by attorneys for a real estate position. I knew those answeres. Then the "female" got really intensified on lots of specifics on a Title Report. I knew all of them, except one. I was not really prepared to be orally tested that way, but I knew that stuff as it was still fresh in my head from school.

Only times I was tested.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

69 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Actually, I think aviation interviews are far tougher than law, but that's only my experience. I've had to take written exams, flights and simulator evals. I've undergone technical interviews for aviation.

I never had a technical interview for law or had to take a straight written exam. I did have Word, WP and computer testing. I had to write a brief essay during one interview, and proof and revise a document for another. Otherwise, my legal interviews were essentially straightforward. Again, my experience, only.

DId you know about the avaition test beforehand? I never thought to ask if I ws going to be tested. That only happened when I was seeking my first position.

Recruting offices for legal, one time had a written test on all areas of law. I was not prepared for that. Knew most of it. Geez, I would have had to study all my notes from all my classes to be prepared for that one.

Computer test were done at the legal staffing places, etc. And if I applied for a legal secretary positon, I got computer tested, and speed tested. I am not good at speed typing - so that would have been the wrong job for me.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

69 months ago

Geez- If they asked me about a stressful time- I would say, Every day - you butterballs are a bunch of pickels. [note codes]

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

69 months ago

kmm in Wilmington, Delaware said: DId you know about the avaition test beforehand? I never thought to ask if I ws going to be tested. That only happened when I was seeking my first position.

Recruting offices for legal, one time had a written test on all areas of law. I was not prepared for that. Knew most of it. Geez, I would have had to study all my notes from all my classes to be prepared for that one.

Computer test were done at the legal staffing places, etc. And if I applied for a legal secretary positon, I got computer tested, and speed tested. I am not good at speed typing - so that would have been the wrong job for me.

When interviewing for a Paralegal position- they assume you know the computers. They do of course ask if you know Word, etc - because that is the applicaton they are using at the firm.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

69 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said:

One aviation company, a Fortune 500 outfit, interviewed me over four days. That interview was far more thorough than any airline interview I attended. I was impressed. The company hired me.

Compare with a law firm interview I attended - the one where the recruiter, who .... That was the interview where I had to handwrite an essay. She had said "no" when I asked if I would be tested. I didn't appreciate being sandbagged like that and was surprised a big-time firm would do so, but I drafted up something.

Snaps for getting hired at the Fortune 500 outfit.

I think that the people setting up the interview have no clue if there will be any testing.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

69 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: The company is a well-known, worldwide and professional flight training organization. My interview belied my actual experience working there to a very disappointing degree - but isn't that true for so many jobs. Perhaps. But, FWIW, I relied in good faith on her word.

At least I was prepared. I wrote about a subject with which I had experience the day before. I was NOT prepared to hand-print my copy; I type (okay, word process) most everything I compose.

Clarification: with respect to no clue - I reference the legal industry- the people there setting up the interview date have no clue. re: test

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Jollibie Bance in Manila, Philippines

56 months ago

Hi, I am a fresh law graduate.. I have an upcoming interview for a Paralegal position. I have no experience in Paralegal and it's my first time to have such an interview. I really have no idea what questions will they ask or how to answer them.

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Jollibie Bance in Manila, Philippines

56 months ago

Thanks a lot! I was just too nervous but I think it ended just fine. The lawyers who interviewed me were very friendly and it's like were just having a conversation.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

56 months ago

Jollibie, you stated the attorneys were very friendly and it's like we're just having conversation. That was a setup!!! Don't fall for it. How long did the interview last? Ten minutes, twenty, thirty-five?

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Jollibie Bance in Manila, Philippines

56 months ago

Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida said: Jollibie, you stated the attorneys were very friendly and it's like we're just having conversation. That was a setup!!! Don't fall for it. How long did the interview last? Ten minutes, twenty, thirty-five?

Hi...really?it lasted for almost 45 minutes. I really have no idea. They asked me to submit a writing sample.

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Jollibie Bance in Makati, Philippines

56 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Maybe Philippine lawyers are friendly, Mary.

Jollibie, you said you are a law graduate but never said if you are a law **school** graduate. At least here, lawyer is presumed as the goal if one attends and graduates from law school. Don't be surprised or disappointed if you are not hired to be a paralegal - unless paralegal in the Philippines is different from the U.S. In the U.S., paralegals are nonlawyers who support attorneys. They cannot practice law or advise clients in the law.

Yes, what i meant was law school graduate. I took the BAR exams last Sept. 2009, I'm waiting for the result. Same here in the Philippines, paralegals maybe law school graduates or the underBAR. Unless we pass the BAR and be admitted to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Then we can practice law anywhere in the Philippines.

The company is a law firm, they really hired law school graduates as paralegals. Then if they pass the BAR exams the company will make them as associates, if not, they will ocntinue to be paralegals.

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Cuban Goddess Chic in Denver, Colorado

55 months ago

Jane Do Girl thank you for these questions.

Marla

Jane Do Girl in Milton, Florida said: Some common questions I would ask as a prospective employee:

1. What are their billable hours requirements? (Have them break it down yearly, monthly, and daily - so you're very clear on this) Do they have a bonus system tied to exceeding those quotas?
2. What kind of Time Keeping system do they use - manual v. electronic? Who will input your time?
3. Do they use case or practice management software - which one?
4. Do the paralegals have secretarial/clerical help?
5. Will you be in a paralegal 'pool' or assigned to a (or several) specific attorney?
6. Do they have electronic document management procedures - what are they?
7. What percentage of your time will be spent drafting/responding to discovery v. legal research and drafting motions/memoranda of law?
8. Do they have an orientation/training for you to get oriented to the firm and way of doing things?
9. Do they have a Paralegal Manager in addition to the Firm Administrator? If not, does the Firm Administrator have a legal background? How knowledgeable is the Firm Admin. about the paralegal profession and relevant issues?
10. Do they have a formal system in place for paralegal development and/or education?
11. Will they pay or reimburse for CLE courses, advanced certification, or even additional paralegal college credit courses? What are the requirements for this?
12. Do they encourage and/or pay for membership and participation in the local paralegal association?
13. Ask about the attorneys you may be working for; how organized are they, are they micro-managers, or more apt to allow you a degree of independence in managing your work load?
14. How flexible are they? Will they allow you to remote in and work from home if you need to stay home w/sick kids, etc.?
15. Get detailed info on their insurance benefits.

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Cuban Goddess Chic in Denver, Colorado

55 months ago

I don't mind so much the billable hour. It just reminds you that you have to be efficient with your time. If you want to work 40 hrs, ya better work smart not harder.

Cuban goddess from Miami

kmm in Wilmington, Delaware said: Good Comment Jane Do Girl: I was a Paralegal for 10 years. (about 3 in Miami, FL- really liked the Miami weather) Anyway, when I interviewed for a Paralegal job, in Philadelphia, I found out it was a billable hour job. [Basically, I do not accepted these jobs because I do not want the hours] I asked about the billable hours - when I had the interview with the 2 [obnoxious] female paralegals. They were a piece of work. ALL they would say was the number of hours. repeadedly. In essence, would not answer the question. THat was a turn-off and at that point I did not want the job - but I continued with the interview with the attorneys. Bottom line. Never gave me the information I was seeking. By then, I was no longer interestd in this job, no matter what the pay. If they cannot or will not give me necessary information on the billable hours questions or any information except the number of hours - when I look back- that was a huge RED Flag. There was no way I would get roped into that- the paralegals were so funny- going on and on about how the attorneys treated them like professionals. I laugh, while they work their backsides off with all the billable hours. VERY good question to ask - if billable hours are the job. I have only had 9-5 or 9-6 jobs.

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Cuban Goddess Chic in Denver, Colorado

55 months ago

Thank you Kmm.

Interviewing for a litigation paralegal position has been hard when all my experience is in accounting, general office manager, Spanish translations, and lite general legal experience combined with education as paralegal and nonlawyering law student.

kmm in Wilmington, Delaware said: So here I am at the Paralegal interview at the Big Firm, in front of the Big Department Partners, and the first statement is [I was being interviewed for corporate law position] I DO NOT SEE ANY CORPORATE EXPERIENCE ON YOUR RESUME. [my experience was litigation]

Here is information on how to handle that situation:

Emphasise other characteristics that are desirable for the role and don't shout about your lack of experience.

If you get an interview, you are in a strong position to justify why they should consider you. - SOMEHOW, you have to impress them with your skills learned, that you can do this job.

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Still a Paralegal Student in Orange Park, Florida

44 months ago

What do Firms think if on-line schooling for getting a degree in Paralegal studies? I hope I haven't made a mistake in investing in Kaplan.

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