35 Legal Secretary Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
Since legal secretaries, also known as legal assistants, work to support attorneys and assist with many aspects of legal work, hiring managers usually look for candidates with exceptional communication, administration skills and specific knowledge about their field of law. The hiring process may vary depending on the firm, and can include a typing test or background check, but the interview is one of the best ways for hiring managers to understand the candidate thoroughly. Learning about common legal secretary interview questions and practicing your answers to them can help you present yourself well when you meet with potential employers.
In this article, we review some interview questions for legal secretary roles and sample answers.
Related: Learn About Being a Legal Secretary
To start the interview, the hiring manager may ask general or broad questions to learn about you and why you're interviewing for this position. Here are some general questions to prepare for in a legal secretary interview:
What do you know about our law firm?
Is legal assistant work your career goal, or do you plan to advance to other legal positions or go to law school?
How do you respond to conflict in the workplace?
Are you familiar with the daily tasks of a legal assistant?
How long would you plan to fill this role?
Can you type quickly with high accuracy?
Do you have experience answering questions and providing customer service over the phone, email and through written mail?
Why are you interested in working in a legal environment?
What qualities do you have that make you a strong candidate for this position?
Why are you leaving your current position?
Do you have family obligations that may prevent you from working overtime occasionally?
Questions about experience and background
The interviewer may ask about your experience and background to understand how you are qualified for this position. If you have recently graduated, you might expect more questions about your education. Here are some questions about your work history and experiences that hiring managers may ask in a legal secretary interview:
What filing systems and confidentiality procedures are you familiar with?
How have you adapted to challenging workplace standards in the past?
Have you worked in a legal secretary role before? Why did you leave that role?
Have you prepared depositions or subpoenas in any other roles?
Do you have experience in workplaces where you need to make ethical decisions regularly?
How do you think your education prepares you for this role?
Are you familiar with preparing minutes, summaries or briefs from spoken conversations and meetings?
What experience do you have working with insurance companies?
What is your experience with professional writing? Legal writing?
What is the hardest task you've had to do in your career, and how did you approach completing it?
Related: Legal Secretary Cover Letter Sample
Law firms may ask in-depth questions to understand how you solve problems at work, how skilled you are at interacting with others and how you might fit in to their company. If you answer with an anecdote, you may use an answer framework like the STAR method to make sure you include all relevant information. Here are some in-depth questions hiring managers may ask in a legal secretary interview:
Where do you start when researching a new case for an attorney?
How would you balance ongoing tasks like filing and transcribing with response to clients over the phone and in person?
Tell me about a time when you found and fixed an error at work.
How would you respond if a client asked you for something you couldn't provide?
What role do you think technology plays in the legal environment? Is technology a priority for you in your workplace?
What types of documents are "discovery" documents?
How would you respond if several attorneys asked you to complete tasks with the same urgent deadline?
When you research a case, how do you determine whether a source is relevant or accurate?
Have you sought out additional responsibility in former jobs? How do you manage current obligations with extra responsibilities?
Are there any legal fields that you find interesting, or types of cases you'd like to work?
Interview questions with sample answers
Here are some example questions and sample answers to review as you prepare for a legal secretary interview:
What did you like best and least about your previous secretary job?
Interviewers may ask this question to learn about your experience doing administrative work and whether you might enjoy being a legal secretary at their firm. When answering this question, you might focus on the positive about current, potential and former employers. As you answer what you enjoyed most, consider talking about something that is also involved in the job or company you're applying to work with. For what you enjoyed least, you might talk about something more vague that doesn't relate to specific coworkers, conditions or companies.
Example: "At my last administrative job with the city recreation department, I really enjoyed the ability to meet many different people and help them find the resources they needed. My least favorite part of that job was that I would often only meet people once, so I wasn't always able to find out how their search for information ended, or really develop personal relationships with them."
How would you respond if someone asked for confidential client information?
Your answer to this question can tell the interviewer about your approach to workplace ethics, how well you understand client confidentiality and whether you're familiar with normal practices to keep documents secure. In your answer, show how important it is to you to uphold the privacy of clients, and talk a little about how you would do that.
Example: "My response would depend on who was asking. When I start at a new company, I study the policies on who can receive confidential client information, and how I can securely transfer that information. For example, if an attorney was asking for confidential information about a case while out of the office, I would send it via a secure email if that's company policy, and if not, I'd print the information and send it through a courier. If the person asking wasn't the client or attorney, I'd politely but firmly tell them that information wasn't available to them."
What does a subpoena do, and what information does it include?
Interviewers might ask questions like this to test your legal knowledge. To prepare for questions like this, you might practice describing things as concisely as you can, and including any relevant details that can show your experience.
Example: "A subpoena is a way to legally collect evidence or testimony for a case. The three types of subpoena can require that someone come to court as a witness, that someone hands over documents or other evidence to the court or that someone provides third-party expertise in court as evidence. Subpoenas need to include the name, address and contact information of the attorney who issued the subpoena, the names of the issuing court and the parties involved and the case docket number."
Describe your personal approach to time management.
This question can help the hiring manager understand your personal methods for prioritizing tasks, meeting deadlines and remembering details. In your answer, emphasize your personal techniques and how rigorously you follow your own plans and schedules.
Example: "I use personal scheduling software to make sure that I stay up to date with all my responsibilities and track my own deadlines. Whenever I receive a new task assignment, I add the deadline to my schedule. At the beginning of each week, I make a list of the different tasks I have to accomplish that week and how long each will take, then make a loose schedule for each day. Leaving some flexibility in this plan and checking in each day helps me be adaptable while still remembering and meeting each deadline."