Legal Assistant Interviews

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edwatt
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Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:49 pm

Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby edwatt » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:49 pm

I have interviews for Legal Assistant positions with two V100 firms in NYC - one is in the top 5 and the other is in the 80's. As far as the interview, what should I expect? I imagine they'll go over my resume with me and ask me to introduce myself and elaborate about a few items on the resume.

I interviewed for a legal/compliance position at a hedge fund a few weeks ago and was surprised/caught off guard by the interview's structure. They had me answer/research questions on a computer, edit a contract, and answer questions verbally.

Thanks for your help.

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dood
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby dood » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:52 pm

edwatt wrote:I have interviews for Legal Assistant positions with two V100 firms in NYC - one is in the top 5 and the other is in the 80's. As far as the interview, what should I expect? I imagine they'll go over my resume with me and ask me to introduce myself and elaborate about a few items on the resume.

I interviewed for a legal/compliance position at a hedge fund a few weeks ago and was surprised/caught off guard by the interview's structure. They had me answer/research questions on a computer, edit a contract, and answer questions verbally.

Thanks for your help.


sounds like u got pwned in ur other interviews. no idea bro, if similar to associate interview, then yes, u imagine correctly.

edwatt
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:49 pm

Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby edwatt » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:06 pm

dood wrote:
edwatt wrote:I have interviews for Legal Assistant positions with two V100 firms in NYC - one is in the top 5 and the other is in the 80's. As far as the interview, what should I expect? I imagine they'll go over my resume with me and ask me to introduce myself and elaborate about a few items on the resume.

I interviewed for a legal/compliance position at a hedge fund a few weeks ago and was surprised/caught off guard by the interview's structure. They had me answer/research questions on a computer, edit a contract, and answer questions verbally.

Thanks for your help.


sounds like u got pwned in ur other interviews. no idea bro, if similar to associate interview, then yes, u imagine correctly.

thx doood

Master Tofu
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Master Tofu » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:06 pm

edwatt wrote:I have interviews for Legal Assistant positions with two V100 firms in NYC - one is in the top 5 and the other is in the 80's. As far as the interview, what should I expect? I imagine they'll go over my resume with me and ask me to introduce myself and elaborate about a few items on the resume.

I interviewed for a legal/compliance position at a hedge fund a few weeks ago and was surprised/caught off guard by the interview's structure. They had me answer/research questions on a computer, edit a contract, and answer questions verbally.

Thanks for your help.



Why be a legal assistant? I assume you're on this board because you want to go to law school. You're not really going learn that much being a legal assistant at a law firm... I'd do about pretty much anything else.

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holdencaulfield
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby holdencaulfield » Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:32 am

Master Tofu wrote:
edwatt wrote:I have interviews for Legal Assistant positions with two V100 firms in NYC - one is in the top 5 and the other is in the 80's. As far as the interview, what should I expect? I imagine they'll go over my resume with me and ask me to introduce myself and elaborate about a few items on the resume.

I interviewed for a legal/compliance position at a hedge fund a few weeks ago and was surprised/caught off guard by the interview's structure. They had me answer/research questions on a computer, edit a contract, and answer questions verbally.

Thanks for your help.



Why be a legal assistant? I assume you're on this board because you want to go to law school. You're not really going learn that much being a legal assistant at a law firm... I'd do about pretty much anything else.


He may actually learn a ton. Our legal assistants draft pleadings & corporate documents (from forms, of course), work with the court to set hearings, file pleadings at the courthouse, doc review (for typos, etc.), and calendar all response deadlines and hearing dates.

It's not substantive legal work, but you will get great exposure to the practice of law.

zomginternets
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby zomginternets » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:39 am

holdencaulfield wrote:
Master Tofu wrote:
edwatt wrote:I have interviews for Legal Assistant positions with two V100 firms in NYC - one is in the top 5 and the other is in the 80's. As far as the interview, what should I expect? I imagine they'll go over my resume with me and ask me to introduce myself and elaborate about a few items on the resume.

I interviewed for a legal/compliance position at a hedge fund a few weeks ago and was surprised/caught off guard by the interview's structure. They had me answer/research questions on a computer, edit a contract, and answer questions verbally.

Thanks for your help.



Why be a legal assistant? I assume you're on this board because you want to go to law school. You're not really going learn that much being a legal assistant at a law firm... I'd do about pretty much anything else.


He may actually learn a ton. Our legal assistants draft pleadings & corporate documents (from forms, of course), work with the court to set hearings, file pleadings at the courthouse, doc review (for typos, etc.), and calendar all response deadlines and hearing dates.

It's not substantive legal work, but you will get great exposure to the practice of law.

Master Tofu
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Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2006 11:43 pm

Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Master Tofu » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:59 am

holdencaulfield wrote:
Master Tofu wrote:
edwatt wrote:I have interviews for Legal Assistant positions with two V100 firms in NYC - one is in the top 5 and the other is in the 80's. As far as the interview, what should I expect? I imagine they'll go over my resume with me and ask me to introduce myself and elaborate about a few items on the resume.

I interviewed for a legal/compliance position at a hedge fund a few weeks ago and was surprised/caught off guard by the interview's structure. They had me answer/research questions on a computer, edit a contract, and answer questions verbally.

Thanks for your help.



Why be a legal assistant? I assume you're on this board because you want to go to law school. You're not really going learn that much being a legal assistant at a law firm... I'd do about pretty much anything else.


He may actually learn a ton. Our legal assistants draft pleadings & corporate documents (from forms, of course), work with the court to set hearings, file pleadings at the courthouse, doc review (for typos, etc.), and calendar all response deadlines and hearing dates.

It's not substantive legal work, but you will get great exposure to the practice of law.


My experience has been that legal assistants enter time; handle print requests; send Fedex packages; and other odd jobs. Any experience that is remotely substantive is typically handled at the paralegal level. I'm not saying you won't learn anything at all but the marginal benefit is probably not worth it if you can do something more rewarding/fulfilling.

STLMizzou
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby STLMizzou » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:15 am

I have to im
Master Tofu wrote:My experience has been that legal assistants enter time; handle print requests; send Fedex packages; and other odd jobs. Any experience that is remotely substantive is typically handled at the paralegal level. I'm not saying you won't learn anything at all but the marginal benefit is probably not worth it if you can do something more rewarding/fulfilling.



I have to imagine that he will not be doing anything substantial if it is for such a large firm, they have paralegals/clerks for that. He will probably be: sorting pleadings folders, making copies, shipping documents, doing hand deliveries, and other jobs that trained monkeys can do.

I am clerking at a midsized firm (40 attorneys at my office, another 15 at other offices) right now pre-law school and it has been great experience. I do something new every day, from: proof-reading filings, making routine motions, preparing documents for expert review, creating new case files, finding case-file on Westlaw etc. I would say about 50% of my work goes into billable hours.

But maybe he will make connections at the firm that he can use later? Who knows.

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Campagnolo
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Campagnolo » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:26 am

The economy is super rough. Take what you can get.

I work now at a law firm as an assistant, and I have learned a lot about how the courts work, etiquette, and billing. It's by no means glamorous, but it has solidified the idea that I could handle being a lawyer and not hate it. In fact, I'll like it. There's nothing like being around it to see if it's for you.

That said, if you can do something with a Fortune 500 with name recognition, do that every time. If that's not an option, take the legal gig.

Master Tofu
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Master Tofu » Fri Dec 23, 2011 1:04 pm

I mainly want to push back on the perception that you have to do something law-related to make yourself a more attractive candidate for law school, sometimes at the cost of more fulfilling and more interesting opportunities - it doesn't have to be F500 or V100. It is the latter that will make you a more attractive candidate and not the former.

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Moxie
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Moxie » Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:30 am

Master Tofu wrote:My experience has been that legal assistants enter time; handle print requests; send Fedex packages; and other odd jobs. Any experience that is remotely substantive is typically handled at the paralegal level. I'm not saying you won't learn anything at all but the marginal benefit is probably not worth it if you can do something more rewarding/fulfilling.


Many V100 firms use the term 'legal assistant' interchangeably with 'paralegals' (ex: Skadden). I think it's fair to assume OP is referring to a paralegal equivalent position, and therefore would be getting that substantive experience.

Master Tofu
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Master Tofu » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:00 am

Moxie wrote:
Master Tofu wrote:My experience has been that legal assistants enter time; handle print requests; send Fedex packages; and other odd jobs. Any experience that is remotely substantive is typically handled at the paralegal level. I'm not saying you won't learn anything at all but the marginal benefit is probably not worth it if you can do something more rewarding/fulfilling.


Many V100 firms use the term 'legal assistant' interchangeably with 'paralegals' (ex: Skadden). I think it's fair to assume OP is referring to a paralegal equivalent position, and therefore would be getting that substantive experience.



Go ahead and assume away the unfavorable facts. It will serve you well.

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dood
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby dood » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:14 am

Master Tofu wrote:I mainly want to push back on the perception that you have to do something law-related to make yourself a more attractive candidate for law school, sometimes at the cost of more fulfilling and more interesting opportunities - it doesn't have to be F500 or V100. It is the latter that will make you a more attractive candidate and not the former.


wait, u'r saying do something more fulfilling/interesting, right? MY NAME IS DOOD AND I FULLY SUPPORT THIS.

but at first read i thought u were saying V100 > F500.

concurrent fork
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby concurrent fork » Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:11 am

Master Tofu wrote:
Moxie wrote:
Master Tofu wrote:My experience has been that legal assistants enter time; handle print requests; send Fedex packages; and other odd jobs. Any experience that is remotely substantive is typically handled at the paralegal level. I'm not saying you won't learn anything at all but the marginal benefit is probably not worth it if you can do something more rewarding/fulfilling.


Many V100 firms use the term 'legal assistant' interchangeably with 'paralegals' (ex: Skadden). I think it's fair to assume OP is referring to a paralegal equivalent position, and therefore would be getting that substantive experience.



Go ahead and assume away the unfavorable facts. It will serve you well.

:roll: Someone's experience differs from your own so it must be abnormal. Legal assistant = paralegal at a lot of firms. OP also said he's applying to a V5, and given the terminology used, it's probably Skadden.

Master Tofu
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Master Tofu » Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:56 am

concurrent fork wrote:
Master Tofu wrote:
Moxie wrote:
Master Tofu wrote:My experience has been that legal assistants enter time; handle print requests; send Fedex packages; and other odd jobs. Any experience that is remotely substantive is typically handled at the paralegal level. I'm not saying you won't learn anything at all but the marginal benefit is probably not worth it if you can do something more rewarding/fulfilling.


Many V100 firms use the term 'legal assistant' interchangeably with 'paralegals' (ex: Skadden). I think it's fair to assume OP is referring to a paralegal equivalent position, and therefore would be getting that substantive experience.



Go ahead and assume away the unfavorable facts. It will serve you well.

:roll: Someone's experience differs from your own so it must be abnormal. Legal assistant = paralegal at a lot of firms. OP also said he's applying to a V5, and given the terminology used, it's probably Skadden.



I didn't say it's abnormal; I also didn't make any assumptions based on my experiences, which you and the poster you defend seems very willing to do.

Look, this is a peripheral point and I am not going to bicker about whether a legal assistant, beyond handling print requests, also proofreads briefs. Last post, say what you will.

Anonymous User
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:25 pm

The rule at my V10 is that we give work to paralegals that requires no judgment whatsoever. Since most legal work involves judgment, they really don't do anything substantive. At least, I wouldn't trust paralegal to do anything substantive.

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Jack Smirks
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Jack Smirks » Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:49 pm

The work that you do under the designation of "paralegal" and "legal assistant" may be exactly the same or it could be totally different. It depends on the firm. Also, you may be folding boxes and making copies all day, or you may be drafting first draft pleadings. This again depends on the firm.

2LLLL
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby 2LLLL » Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:52 pm

Even if you're not doing anything substantive, this is still a good opportunity if you're interested in law school down the road. You can see what life is like in a firm, see if you can handle the pressure/hours/dealing with awkward attorneys, and most importantly make some money so you can cut back on how much debt you have to take on to go to law school.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Old Gregg » Sat Dec 24, 2011 3:10 pm

I do think paralegal jobs are hugely helpful in preparing one for the big firm. But I, and everyone else I work with, would never entrust a paralegal to writing the first draft of a legal pleading, unless it was menial (i.e., I'd give you a template and ask you to fill the blanks in).

pehaigllleises
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby pehaigllleises » Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:06 pm

I was a paralegal at a NYC V10 for 2 1/2 years out of college and before going on to U Chicago. I'm a 3L now. It's not a bad gig--you get a lot of perks, it pays relatively well (save up for law school!), you get to see how firms work, you get used to working with lawyers, you get used to working long hours, you pick up a lot of lawyer terminology, and you may make friends with attorneys who mentor you throughout law school and hopefully beyond. You won't have a lot of responsibility, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it makes it easier to enjoy your life and go on really awesome far-flung vacations.

As far as the interview, it was a normal interview where they went through my resume and asked me things about it. I met first with the paralegal coordinator, then with two current paralegals, and at that point they decided whether they liked me enough to have me meet with current attorneys. There were no oddball questions and no substantive questions. At my firm we were called "paralegals" but some attorneys referred to us as "legal assistants." The secretaries were also sometimes called "legal assistants," but they had very different and more administrative duties (e.g., they were not assigned to work on specific cases).

I didn't learn many useful skills as a paralegal and I learned very little substantive law. I was only a paralegal on litigation cases. What I did was basically to manage the case documents (pleadings, letters, every piece of discovery/evidence, etc.) and proofread all documents going to the court (so I learned bluebooking).

I wasn't immature or anything coming out of college, but it also gave me a few more years to grow up and be prepared for the law school workload, and hopefully for the law firm workload. The legal terminology was useful, and having a sense for the steps in the litigation process was useful for hitting the ground running in Civ Pro. Learning bluebooking was very useful. Most useful is just having a sense of how a firm operates, who does what there, what relationships there are important to cultivate, a sense of the workload, etc. I consider my years spent as a litigation paralegal worth it for the firm experience and the extra maturity that comes with being a bit later in my 20s, even though I'm going to do transactional tax work (pretty much totally different).

Anonymous User
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Re: Legal Assistant Interviews

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:44 am

I worked as a legal assistant at a V10 (our firm: paralegal = legal assistant) for over a year and a half, and have had an amazing experience. However, I was in the firm's corporate transactional half and NOT litigation; much of the work on these deals (capital markets and M&A) are related to legal disclosure and compliance with SEC regulations, so it is not closely related to the material taught in law school, and more finance/business based.

I was fortunate to have quite a bit of responsibility (under close supervision, of course)- prepared drafts of legal opinions, substantial portions of prospectuses, SEC filings, even underwriter agreements. But this also came with pretty bad hours (easily 250+, sometimes 300+ a month- with OT of course). As one of the associates joked, I was doing a junior associate's job on a paralegal's pay. But it highly depends on the individual and the office. I have talked to paralegals in other offices who have only done due diligence, closing sets, and other quite mundane tasks. It also depends on your individual performance, enthusiasm, and general likeability- I started off with menial tasks but through hard work, enthusiasm and likeability was able to slowly gain the trust of my higher-ups who increasingly looked for my help in substantial assignments.

I had two rounds of interviews; the first with an associate, the second with the senior partner of the office. They were pretty standard interviews, asking about my resume and interest in law, then some general chit-chatty questions. I was not nervous at all and it was like any other interview with no twists.

I would say that if you are interested in transactional law, getting a paralegal job would be a great experience- not having gone to law school is not as major of a factor as in litigation. Corporate transactional lawyers will be able to give you substantive assignments since a lot of them do not require knowledge of statutes or the due process of the law (other than SEC regulations). You will be exposed to the deal mechanics on a variety of transactions, which for the most part are standard and do not vary from deal to deal. Then if you decide to work as an associate down the road you will have a major leg up over the rest of the junior associates who have three years of academic legal knowledge but don't have any practical knowledge of how a transaction works and the lawyer's role in that transaction.




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