Lawyers Speak Up: Interview Tips for New Lawyers

By Ryan Raplee | Nov 18, 2020 | Round Up

The legal industry is one of the strongest sectors for recruitment growth. Because of that, job interviews can be a daunting process at any point in an attorney’s career. Having strong interview skills is essential to making the right moves for your future. For new lawyers, they not only need to interview well but set themselves apart from the crowd.

In October, we asked practicing attorneys to discuss interview tips they’d give to a new lawyer looking to start their career.

Let’s take a look at what advice lawyers had to share with our readers:

Danielle E. Patterson, of Spiros Law, PC:

In our current environment, I don’t think I can stress enough the importance of keeping remote interviewing professional. If you are interviewing via Zoom, wear a suit, ensure you have adequate lighting, and test out your microphone and speakers before the interview.

Today, Court and depositions and even client meetings are being held via Zoom. The environment you create for your interview is a glimpse into how you will prepare for Court and handle remote work. All too often, attorneys get comfortable at home and don’t dress for the occasion. Show your future employer that you mean business and are prepared to tackle our new, remote world!

Tad Thomas, of Thomas Law Offices, PLLC:

It is important to do research on the firm with whom you’re interviewing. Look at their website and ask professors at your school if they are familiar with the firm. Be able to talk intelligently about the firm’s area of practice and ask educated questions about what you would be doing as a lawyer there.

Todd W. Burris, of Law Office of Todd W. Burris, PLLC:

I’d say to remember the hiring firm will not expect you to know everything coming out the gate. I would steer towards responses that show your eagerness to learn and be taught from a more seasoned attorney—rather than pretend you will be the best hire because of your law school rank or accomplishments. Highlight a desire to learn and acknowledge an understanding that you will need to become a great attorney, which will take many, many years, and you’re the best hire because you will always be teachable and continue to learn from those who are ahead of you.

Will Bond, of McMath Woods, PA:

Here are my tips:

Research the firm and the people you will be interviewing with. Know what they do, what they are interested in, and what accomplishments they may be proud of. Know what you are genuinely interested in that the firm (or lawyer) is working on and what experiences you have that would offer some value. Knowing these things can help you avoid what I refer to as interview potholes.

The number one rule in an interview is to try not to turn anyone off with an unforced error. I would also be prepared to give an honest assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses. Of course you are not going to put an exclamation point on your weaknesses, but this a question I love to ask people: “What is a weakness of yours, something you need to work on?” Many people stumble over that question, fearful of stabbing themselves in the back. Every lawyer is better at some things than others. Be ready to admit where you need a little work and tell the interviewer how you are improving that weakness.

Always be ready for the question about where you see yourself in five or ten years. I think this is important, and having an answer ready creates some calm when this comes up. I think some form of this question has arisen in every interview I ever participated in as a job-seeking lawyer or interviewer.

Lastly, look them in the eye, know their name or names, and smile. Smiling cures a lot of stuff. Everybody wants to work with someone who can smile. If they count off for smiling, you did not want to work there anyway.

We’d like to thank all of the attorneys who responded to our roundup questions and shared their insights.  If you’re an attorney and would like to share your thoughts and advice with other lawyers and potentially become a part of Lawyer Minds, reach out to us.