Interviewing for job in law office

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HarveyBirdman
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Interviewing for job in law office

Postby HarveyBirdman » Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:46 pm

I've got an interview for a job at a law office in a few days, and I'm trying to go through what kind of questions they are going to ask me. I'm still in college, this is some kind of office assistant position, but since I have no office work experience, I'm guessing me saying "yah I wanna be a lawyer one day!!11" in my cover letter led to them even considering me.

So I'm anticipating the question "why do you want to be a lawyer?" coming up. And for the life of me I can't think of an answer. Yes I genuinely do want to be a lawyer, but I don't know how to articulate that beyond "it seems cool." Can you guys help me out? I'm sure there are people here who have been on a million job/internship interviews and have this down to a science.

What other questions do you think I should expect?

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bk1
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby bk1 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:07 pm

They're probably not going to ask you why you want to be a lawyer. Most legal support staff never go to law school and I'd imagine a great many of them don't intend to become lawyers.

If they ask you why you want a job as legal support staff you should be honest. I would assume that the reason is because you think you want to be a lawyer and would like to work in a legal environment before you decide for sure to pursue law school.

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HarveyBirdman
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby HarveyBirdman » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:41 pm

bk1 wrote:They're probably not going to ask you why you want to be a lawyer. Most legal support staff never go to law school and I'd imagine a great many of them don't intend to become lawyers.

If they ask you why you want a job as legal support staff you should be honest. I would assume that the reason is because you think you want to be a lawyer and would like to work in a legal environment before you decide for sure to pursue law school.


Hey that's not a bad way of spinning it at all. I wasn't looking at it from that perspective, thanks.

I hate interviews. I can prepare for written tests or speeches no problem, but trying to guess what someone else is going to say to me...well I haven't had much success in the past.

Related note: they always say you're supposed to send a thank you note after you've had an interview. Does this mean a handwritten note, like on notebook paper? Or a thank you card purchased at a store, with a handwritten note inside? Or a typed letter?

See I'm so surprised they even called me...I want every upper hand I can get. I even got a fresh haircut, haha.

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bk1
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby bk1 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:46 pm

HarveyBirdman wrote:Related note: they always say you're supposed to send a thank you note after you've had an interview. Does this mean a handwritten note, like on notebook paper? Or a thank you card purchased at a store, with a handwritten note inside? Or a typed letter?


Just send an email. The other stuff is too much, imo.

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Hippononymous
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby Hippononymous » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:52 pm

I lost a job at a small firm once because I told them I wanted to go to LS. Basically, they didn't want to train me just to have me stick around for a year. Understandable.

bk is right about the other stuff.

ajr
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby ajr » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:56 pm

Hippononymous wrote:I lost a job at a small firm once because I told them I wanted to go to LS. Basically, they didn't want to train me just to have me stick around for a year. Understandable.

bk is right about the other stuff.


Bad idea to say that the reason you want to work there is to 'check out' a legal environment before you decide to go to law school. How does that help them? An example of a better (yet honest) answer would be 'because it is a good fit for my degree and personality...blah blah. Besides, in the long term, I am considering going to law school'.

Of course, this is unless they have a standard student associate track to which you are applying...

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bk1
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby bk1 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:08 pm

ajr wrote:
Hippononymous wrote:I lost a job at a small firm once because I told them I wanted to go to LS. Basically, they didn't want to train me just to have me stick around for a year. Understandable.

bk is right about the other stuff.


Bad idea to say that the reason you want to work there is to 'check out' a legal environment before you decide to go to law school. How does that help them? An example of a better (yet honest) answer would be 'because it is a good fit for my degree and personality...blah blah. Besides, in the long term, I am considering going to law school'.

Of course, this is unless they have a standard student associate track to which you are applying...


This is a good point. In my current job I was upfront with them that I would be leaving in a year and a half and they were okay with that but that isn't necessarily the case in other places.

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HarveyBirdman
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby HarveyBirdman » Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:12 pm

^I lost the chance for a promotion at my current job because I'm graduating in six months and the manager said "oh well you'll be leaving us soon anyway and we really don't want to have to retrain someone again, so..." Leaving soon my ass! This economy stinks.

In my situation, I graduate from college in December, but was planning on working a year or two before going to law school anyway. There's also a school in the area with a notorious part time program, so I guess I could talk about how nice it would be to work there as a "legal tech" while going to school part time a few miles away.

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paratactical
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby paratactical » Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:47 pm

1) Emphasize that this job would be a tool for you to see if your idea of becoming a lawyer is really what you think it is.

2) Be sure to be honest and forthcoming about how long you would like to stay in the position - if two years would be okay and you're not lying to say that you would stay for two years, say two years. Be forewarned that lots of firms don't want anyone who wants to stay less than two years. Too hard to train for too little time.

3) Make sure to point out how, even if you don't go to law school, your education/background/etc fits with the position and how you will excel in the firm, regardless of what plans may materialize in the future.

4) Email the thank you to everyone you can.

5) Do some research on the firm before you go. Make sure that if they've had any big cases that got press recently that you can say "oh, well I thought case XYZ was really interesting and I would love to see what goes into working on these cases".

Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions. I've been a biglaw paralegal for a while now and I've done lots of firm interviewing.

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HarveyBirdman
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby HarveyBirdman » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:43 pm

I don't think my education or background really fits with the position at all! I mean, my work experience is all shitty jobs. I can talk about what I've done well with these jobs, but it's not relevant to law or office work.

I only have an email for the original application I sent, not the person that will be interviewing me. Should I ask them for their business card at the end of the interview? Should I ask them questions like "what is the firm's mission? do you have a vision for expanding in the near future?"

I'm hoping me wanting to take two years to get work experience before law school and then potentially going part time would let them know I'm not going to just jump ship in a few months. I really want this job. It's so freakin close to my house and it's exactly what I had in mind for my pre law school employment. Fuuuuuuuuuuu.....
Last edited by HarveyBirdman on Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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crossarmant
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby crossarmant » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:51 am

Hippononymous wrote:I lost a job at a small firm once because I told them I wanted to go to LS. Basically, they didn't want to train me just to have me stick around for a year. Understandable.

bk is right about the other stuff.


The same thing happened to me about 3 times before I put two and two together. Just kind of leave that info off the table.

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paratactical
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby paratactical » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:17 am

HarveyBirdman wrote:I don't think my education or background really fits with the position at all! I mean, my work experience is all shitty jobs. I can talk about what I've done well with these jobs, but it's not relevant to law or office work.

See, you need to think differently. Ever wait tables? This is relevant because it taught you to organize many sets of items at once, with a need for speed and efficiency. At a job like that, you learn if you can handle working in a high stress environment. Ever work somewhere an answer phones? This teaches you professionalism on the telephone, perhaps working with multiple call lines and handling messages for other people. Ever have a job where you were in a management/leadership position? Even if it was just that you were given authority to close a retail store that demonstrates a business' willingness to trust you with their inventory. Shit like that.

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HarveyBirdman
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby HarveyBirdman » Fri Jun 24, 2011 8:38 am

Well I guess it went well enough. They called me back for a second interview in a week. I think this one will involve meeting the managing partner of the firm...the first interview was with like the head paralegal/office manager. Haha I hope I didn't cash out all my good answers in the first interview...I mean what should I expect now?

I just made it clear that I didn't want to go straight into law school, that I planned on getting a few years work experience, which is true, and that's all I really had to say about that.

Funny little note: She mentioned I was kind of over qualified for the job, since usually people doing this position only have high school diplomas and I'll soon have a bachelor's degree.

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DocHawkeye
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby DocHawkeye » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:19 am

HarveyBirdman wrote:Funny little note: She mentioned I was kind of over qualified for the job, since usually people doing this position only have high school diplomas and I'll soon have a bachelor's degree.


That's the nature of the job market these days. I have a Ph.D. and am working in a call center to pay my bills this summer. I don't have grand dreams of a six figure salary, but I'm hoping law school will open a few more doors.

Congrats on the second interview.

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crossarmant
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby crossarmant » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:21 am

HarveyBirdman wrote:Funny little note: She mentioned I was kind of over qualified for the job, since usually people doing this position only have high school diplomas and I'll soon have a bachelor's degree.


At least they're thinking of giving you the job despite being over-qualified. A lot of the places I applied to that I was overqualified for didn't want anything to do with me because most over-qualified folks leave as soon as they find something better. A lot of places are looking for long term employees, which unfortunately, most over-qualified people aren't.

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HarveyBirdman
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Re: Interviewing for job in law office

Postby HarveyBirdman » Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:50 am

I thought it was just weird how she said that, and here I was walking in there thinking I've got no right to be interviewing for this job, no related experience, etc etc. Funny how perspective works.

If it actually gets to the point of wage discussion, I need some help. How do I negotiate wage? I mean, I'm so used to being treated like shit at my store job (wage freezes for all every year but one, no possible consideration of merit wages on an individual basis) that I expect them to throw a number out, and if I don't take it then too bad, onto the next person.

I'd like to be making $12/hr. I would settle for $11. But this being a "high school diploma" position makes me think starting wage is more like $9. I'd be happy to just get the job, but I don't want to be making less than was reasonably possible.




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