- Can you give an example of where you have chosen to involve yourself in the broader legal community? See answer
- How do you handle a disagreement with a superior over a legal matter? See answer
- Have you ever worked on a case that was hard not to take home with you? How did you handle the situation? See answer
- Can you share a Supreme Court case that impacts your practice of law on a daily basis?
- Can you elaborate on a situation where you were unsuccessful as a lawyer? How did you handle it?
- What aspect of being a lawyer interests you the most? What examples can you provide?
- Why do you want to work at this law firm over another law firm or your own private practice?
- Besides your current specialty in law, what other specialties pique your interest? Do you have experience in those areas?
- What are your greatest strengths as a lawyer? How about your greatest weaknesses?
- How would a client describe you and your abilities as a lawyer? Can you provide a few examples?
- What is your greatest accomplishment as a lawyer so far and why?
- How do you handle having multiple clients and cases to work on at once? What examples can you provide from your previous firm?
- Do you enjoy public speaking? If so, what tactics do you use to engage your audience in a courtroom?
- Can you tell me about your experience drafting legal documents? What writing areas could you improve on?
- Have you ever hired, trained or managed legal assistants? If so, what examples can you offer?
- What would you do if you had to manage a case that differed from your ethical values?
6 Lawyer Interview Questions and Answers
Can you please name a Supreme Court case that impacts your practice of law on a daily basis?
The purpose of this question is not necessarily to test the substance of the answer but more the fact that the candidate has an answer. This is indicative of the fact that they are informed and see the larger picture. So much of what a lawyer does relies on having strong background knowledge of the law. A strong applicant will have legal principles on the tip of their tongue. What to look for in an answer:
- Background knowledge of legal principles
- Ability to quickly cite legal precedent
- Skills in applying the law to daily job duties
“Gideon v Wainright underscores the importance of legal counsel for defendants, and it gives me a daily reminder that I became a lawyer to help people.”
Can you give an example of where you have chosen to involve yourself in the broader legal community?
Lawyers that network and do the “extra-curricular” activities are generally better informed about recent developments than other attorneys. In addition, networking helps a lawyer build a reputation in the legal sector. Attorneys who have better connections with other attorneys benefit from getting referrals of business from those other attorneys. When an attorney has a leadership position in a legal organization, they command more respect in their profession. What to look for in an answer:
- A roster of organizations to which they belong
- Leadership positions in the legal community
- A desire to become active legally
“I am active in the local bar association and belong to several of their different subcommittees where I help play a leadership role.”
How do you handle a disagreement with a superior over a legal matter?
Disagreements happen in the practice of law. Two attorneys can reach different opinions about an issue and both can be correct. It is even more difficult when one of the attorneys works for the other. Part of being a successful lawyer is learning how to make one’s voice heard without being overbearing. You will want to see how the candidate handles conflict, especially with someone for whom they work. What to look for in an answer:
- Ability to articulate conflict-handling strategies
- Knowledge of choosing when to agree to disagree
- Evidence that they can articulate a position
“I try to state my case respectfully and listen carefully to my superior’s point of view, knowing that I need to listen to my superiors so long as my professional responsibility obligations permit.”
Can you elaborate on a situation where you were unsuccessful and how you handled it?
You should get a sense of how the lawyer handles adversity because there is quite a bit of it in the legal profession. A good lawyer will learn from failure and make the necessary adjustments so it does not happen again in the future. Every lawyer will experience failure at some point. The key question is whether the lawyer can deal with it and bounce back in the future. What to look for in an answer:
- Resilience to deal with failure
- A commitment to improving abilities
- Self-confidence to know that a mistake is not defining
“I lost a key case last year. I went back and reviewed my notes and every decision I made. I pinpointed factors that indicated where I went wrong and adjusted my next case accordingly.”
What aspect of the daily job of being a lawyer interests you the most?
Every lawyer has strengths and weaknesses. Some attorneys do things better than others. This question will test what a lawyer believes that they are good at and what interests them. If they indicate that they dislike a critical basic area of the job, it can help you determine where they would be a good fit in your company. At the same time, the candidate could have a passion for a skill that the company needs. What to look for in an answer:
- Passion for different areas of the law
- Ability to engage in all job-related activities
- Evidence of diligence and motivation
“I enjoy the daily aspects of both the legal research of being a lawyer as well as being able to interact with and help clients of all types.
Have you ever worked on a case that was hard not to take home with you? How did you handle the situation?
Depending on the type of law they practice, lawyers may have to work on cases that evoke emotions like those in family cases or criminal trials. This question allows an interviewer to gauge a candidate's ability to maintain their mental health when working on particularly difficult cases.
A candidate's answer should emphasize:
- Ability to separate work from personal time
- Previous case experience
Here is an example of a quality candidate answer:
"Yes, there was one case I worked on where I ended up representing a mother trying to gain back custody of her children after they'd entered the foster care system. We ended up losing the case and it was hard not to think about her and her children. I've found it most helpful to compartmentalize my professional life from my personal life. This means that each time I start thinking about a case while off work, I call a friend, work on my hobbies or exercise. These activities help me stay positive and allow me to focus better on future cases."