I Need a Good Interview Response


I’m a 2L, and I just had my first summer associate interview.  The guy kept asking me what kind of law I want to practice?  Didn’t really have an answer.  Just kind of waffled.  I have lots more interviews coming up.  Please tell me the best way to handle that question next time someone asks?

If you don’t know what type of law you want to practice, just tell the interviewer that.  Be honest.  Nobody expects you to have a specialty in mind as a second year.  In fact, if you do, it’s kind of weird.  So just tell the the truth.  Say something like this:  “Since I’ve never really practiced before, I don’t really know.  If possible, I’d like to sample a few different practice areas over the summer and see what I like best.” The interviewers are focused almost exclusively on your attitude (and grades).  So be positive, excited and flexible.  And most importantly, let them know you’re open to any and all practice areas.

Got a question for Ex-Bitter?  Email it to info@bitterlawyer.com

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

7 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    September 2, 2008 at 3:31 am

    This is the end of the summer.  How old is this-a guy having his first summer associate interview?  Talk about stale!

  2. Random Law Student

    September 2, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Actually, 2Ls are starting to interview for summer internships right now.  Many of the interviews started at the end of 1L summer before we were even back.  So, it’s not old, it’s just that interviews are ridiculously early.

  3. 2L

    September 2, 2008 at 7:37 am

    We just started on campus interviews last week.  So this question definitely isn’t stale.  It’s ripe!

  4. Cameron

    September 3, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    As a 2L interviewing next week, I had this exact question in mind.  Still, I feel like if I say “I’m really not sure” and the firm has someone else who says “I’m all about X, Y and Z” and the interviewing firm practices in X, Y ans Z, the other 2L is at a distinct advantage.  My plan is to say that I am interested in several of the areas the firm practices in, which is true.  I am also interested in some areas they DONT practice in, and of course I won’t mention that… we’ll have to see how that works out.

  5. Bitterer

    September 5, 2008 at 11:29 am

    “What kind of law do you want to practice?” Translation: “What is wrong with you and why do you want to be a lawyer?” The right answer is to say None and walk out the door.

  6. ex-bitter turned recruiter

    September 8, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    The attorneys conducting interviews at OCI and during the callbacks have forgotten how little law students know about the actual practice of law.  As a recruiter, I went back to a few schools to talk to law students and was floored when they didn’t seem to understand the corporate/litigation dichotomy, or the various types of corporate law or even what people should focus on if they want to go in-house.  This stuff isn’t taught in law schools, not 2nd tier (Santa Clara) nor 1st (Stanford).  Ex-Bitter’s got it exactly right – be flexible and be excited about how great that firm is in encouraging its summers to try out various practice areas.  They love to hear that crap.

  7. Law School Grad

    August 3, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    My experience was different – a good portion of interviewers would grill me about what practice areas I was interested in and what made me want to practice law.  Some of these interviewers would never be satisfied with my reasons.  I encountered at least 2 or 3 of them during every call back (out of 5-8 attorneys). 
    One other point: Ex-Bitter-Turned-Recruiter is right – when I asked any questions about what a particular lawyer liked about his specialty, it seemed to highlight to them how little I knew about the day-to-day work in that specialty.  I don’t see how I could have known more just from law school or the general info online.

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