You’ve just spent several years and countless hours studying law, and you’ve completed your Practical Legal Training (PLT), giving you confidence that the legal profession is now within reach. The next step can seem unnerving: your first job interview as a lawyer. This blog will give you tips on how to prepare so that you can start your law career with gusto.
If you haven’t done so already, once you’ve attained an interview with a law firm, a crucial step is to do plenty of research on the firm so that when your interview time arrives, you know as much as possible about the company.
Most firms will have an ‘About Us’ page on their websites, which is a great place to start, as well as information on the areas of law in which they practise. It’s also a good idea to do a web search about the company in order to see what is written about them, including reviews, news, and cases they have undertaken.
It helps to know as much about an employer as possible before the interview, so that you know what is expected, and the firm knows you have done your homework.
Your interviewers will ask you many questions in an effort to gain a greater understanding of your grasp of the law and how to apply it or how you would respond in hypothetical situations.
They might also ask about:
– your current employment;
– what makes you a good fit for their firm;
– your legal skills and legal experience;
– your interpersonal skills;
– your referees;
– your salary expectations;
– your interests outside of work.
You will likely be asked what are your career objectives as a lawyer, which is one instance where an interviewer can gauge whether you see this role as something for the long term or as a short stop on your career path.
In most interviews, you will also get a chance to ask your own questions, usually towards the end of the interview. When you know about the company and the role you’ve applied for, you’re in a better position to ask the right questions during the interview. But what questions should you ask?
If this is your first ever job in the law, perhaps you can ask about on-the-job training initiatives, mentored opportunities, and paths for skill development that will allow you progress. You can also enquire about their expectations of employees, their management style, budgets, long-term plans, and future opportunities. To really impress your interviewers, try asking questions that also highlight the research you’ve done – for example, if you read some news that the firm has recently hired a family law partner, perhaps ask what this expansion means for new employees.
Interview attire and body language
Arriving at a law firm interview in jeans and a t-shirt is obviously not a good look, so it’s best to dress as if you’ve already got the job. A clean, well-fitted suit (for women and men) and clean shoes are a great idea, so as to convey that you are serious about making a good impression, even from a presentation point of view. The same rules about professional attire apply for video interviews.
It’s also important to remember that good interview etiquette isn’t just about what you say, but how you say it. Be mindful of your tone and body language such as hand gestures and eye contact.
Always bear in mind that being honest about your strengths, negatives and experiences is a great policy, as your employer is trying to work out if you will be an asset to their law firm. And while it’s important to always be honest, don’t be shy about highlighting your strengths and finding positives in every situation – even the lessons you’ve learnt from negative experiences that will help you in your new role.
And remember, there’s nothing like practise, practise, practise. Doing a ‘mock interview’ with a friend can be an invaluable way to prepare. Students who do their PLT at Leo Cussen are also able to practice their interview skills with a qualified careers consultant who is also a lawyer.
If you are well-prepared, project confidence, and are personable, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting the job and starting your career in law.