Interview Tips - What do I say when they ask, "Why law?"

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 314011
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Interview Tips - What do I say when they ask, "Why law?"

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:39 am

I decided to go to law school after doing TFA - and truly, I want to do public interest work someday. I'd love to work for the Department of Education or DOJ or USAO.

However, right after school, I'd like to work at a big law firm - mainly for the experience and the $.

I have an interview coming up for a 1L fellowship at a top law firm and I wanted to ask for your advice on what to say when they ask me, why law? The real reason why I went to law school has to do with wanting to make change on a bigger scale - to make a larger impact. As a teacher, I witnessed some of the most inequitable racial and socioeconomic outcomes - some of the brightest kids being hampered by their backgrounds. But as a teacher, I was limited to impacting kids at the grassroots level. I wanted to make change at a greater level - and with more tools (e.g., knowledge of the law). I thought that I could do that as a lawyer. I could go into more detail, but I'll stop there.

Do you guys think launching into that story will be worthwhile at an interview at a big firm? Or do you think they'll wonder why I'm trying to work at their firm instead of working at a pub interest org?

My career services contact suggested just saying that I want to make change on a larger scale, and then to tie it to the firm's power/resources. I'm not so sure about that link - I wonder if it's too attenuated. What does everyone else think?

clerk1251

Bronze
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:35 am

Re: Interview Tips - What do I say when they ask, "Why law?"

Postby clerk1251 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:23 am

This is not something that you will find an answer to on a blog. Interviews are an opportunity for someone to get to know you - the best thing you can do is be genuine. That being said, you should also tailor your answers to the specific job you are applying to. It's a personal question. Sounds like you got some good advice from career services already. As the idiom goes, too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth.

User avatar
Lacepiece23

Silver
Posts: 1027
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:10 pm

Re: Interview Tips - What do I say when they ask, "Why law?"

Postby Lacepiece23 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:40 am

Just give the generic line that you really enjoy writing, reading, and presenting arguments in a persuasive fashion. You think that these skills are important as a lawyer and are skills that align for your own skill set.

All biglaw firms care about is whether you'll be able to do the work and bill. If you tell them you like or are good at the skills that allow you to do so, then I can't really see how you can lose in a biglaw interview. Save the rest for your pi interview in six years.

Just my opinion.

RaceJudicata

Gold
Posts: 1680
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 2:51 pm

Re: Interview Tips - What do I say when they ask, "Why law?"

Postby RaceJudicata » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:13 am

Definitely don't tell that story during a firm interview. I think its ok to express some interest in pro bono (others will disagree), but being a ENEMIES OF THE GATE during a firm interview isn't a good look, IMHO.

User avatar
elendinel

Silver
Posts: 975
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:29 pm

Re: Interview Tips - What do I say when they ask, "Why law?"

Postby elendinel » Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:03 pm

Don't talk about passion for a completely different type of legal work. Because they're not stupid and are going to ask you why you don't just do that kind of work, and if you can't convincingly say you have absolutely no interest in doing so anymore it's going to be obvious that $$ is the only reason.

Agree with your CS that it's best to stick just to saying you want to make changes on a large scale and that [firm] is the best place you can think of to do that because _____. They're not expecting true passion for their practice; they're trying to figure out if you like doing things that are required to do the things they need you to do (write, research, work on deals, talk to clients, whatever). What they don't want is for you to leave 3 months later to become CTO of a startup because you hate law, or something like that.

User avatar
mjb447

Silver
Posts: 1276
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:36 am

Re: Interview Tips - What do I say when they ask, "Why law?"

Postby mjb447 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:31 pm

Piling on and agreeing with everyone else - try to think of a relatively honest answer that still anticipates the obvious follow-up question, i.e., how consistent with your answer is working here for the foreseeable future?

Anonymous User
Posts: 314011
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Interview Tips - What do I say when they ask, "Why law?"

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:37 pm

Thanks all for your answer. Would anyone be able to review my prepared answer? I've edited it to seem more big law appropriate.

User avatar
elendinel

Silver
Posts: 975
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:29 pm

Re: Interview Tips - What do I say when they ask, "Why law?"

Postby elendinel » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks all for your answer. Would anyone be able to review my prepared answer? I've edited it to seem more big law appropriate.


I almost want to say no, because when you're getting people to review and edit your answer it's going to come off as being crafted and rehearsed, which is about the same as admitting you don't really know "why law."

You don't need to say specific words and phrases. You just need to be honest about what you like about that firm, without being too honest about your five/ten-year plan. And you gotta trust yourself to be able to do that on your own in a room with people asking you lots of questions.

Just don't talk about your passion for PI.

Bluem_11

Bronze
Posts: 201
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 1:03 pm

Re: Interview Tips - What do I say when they ask, "Why law?"

Postby Bluem_11 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:12 pm

If I was interviewing a candidate and they replied with "Because I'm neurotic, this was a fallback plan, and I wanted to earn a decent living" I'd give them more points than some half-baked reply.



Return to “Legal Employment�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.