9 Common Interview Questions for Lawyers (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 18 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Qualifying for an interview as a lawyer is among the last steps in securing a position. Before going for your interview, it's important to prepare by researching some common questions that the interviewing panel may ask. Being well-prepared for the interview can help boost your confidence and allow you to respond clearly to the questions, which may increase your chances of getting the job. In this article, we discuss the commonly asked interview questions for lawyers, with sample answers and tips to help prepare for the interview.

Commonly asked interview questions for lawyers

Below are some commonly asked interview questions for lawyers with example answers:

1. What are the top qualities of an excellent lawyer?

Employers might ask you this question to determine if you know what makes a successful lawyer. In your answer, state what qualities you have and explain their potential impacts in the field or organisation.

Example answer: ‘The ability to communicate effectively is one of the top qualities of a lawyer, as it can help lawyers communicate well with the client and judge when you appear in court. It's also necessary to have excellent reasoning skills, good judgement and sound logical abilities to succeed. A lawyer can use these judgements to anticipate and address potential weaknesses in your argument and the opponent's view. Good lawyers also have excellent research skills they can use when preparing cases.'

Related: What Does a Lawyer Do? (With a Guide on How to Become One)

2. What does the term amicus curiae mean according to law?

You may find it necessary to familiarise yourself with legal terminology, as courts of law often use it. You can answer this question by defining the term and explaining its origin.

Example answer: ‘Amicus curiae is a common Latin term used in law, which means friend of the court. It refers to someone who assists a court by providing information or advice regarding matters of law or fact.'

3. Why did you choose to pursue a law career?

The hiring manager may want to know why you chose law over any other career. They may ask you this question to determine your passion for law, as this may influence your productivity if you get hired. In your answer, be sure to describe this passion and any other abilities you may have that may be useful for a law career to show the interviewer you're qualified for the role.

Example answer: ‘Being a lawyer has been my dream since I started school. The reason I chose law was that lawyers fight for justice and stand up for the oppressed within a courtroom, whether they do it voluntarily or for a living. Also, a career in law is very diverse. Lawyers can work in different places and have many specialisation options to choose from. For example, I can be a judge, a paralegal, a mediator or I can become a law consultant.'

Related: What Does a Criminal Lawyer Do? (And How to Become One)

4. In case a judgement is not in your favour, how do you handle the situation?

An interviewer might ask this question to determine how you handle pressure and challenges in your line of duty. Try to think of a situation in which you learnt a valuable skill or lesson as a result of the loss of a case. This can help you show the interviewer your resilience.

Example answer: 'In my five years of practising law, I have encountered unique challenges. Losing a case is disappointing for both me and my clients. Whenever that happens, I usually accept the judgement and let my client know the reason the judgement did not favour us. But if the judgement is not satisfying, I usually move the case to the Court of Appeal and seek more clarification from the judges.'

5. Tell us about the various affidavits and their uses.

Interview panels may use this statement to determine how familiar you are with different types of affidavits and your general knowledge of the law. You can respond to this by first defining what an affidavit is, then describing the types and their applications. Providing the answer in that order shows the panel how conversant you are with law and courtrooms.

Example answer: ‘An affidavit is a written declaration affirmed by an oath used as evidence in the court. There are two types of affidavits, the starting affidavit and the final hearing affidavit. A starting affidavit is one that a lawyer files at the beginning of a hearing or proceeding. When a case reaches the final hearing, the final affidavit usually highlights the evidence for the judgement.'

6. What is a commercial lawyer?

This type of question requires a brief explanation. Hiring managers may ask this question to determine if you know the different types of lawyers and what a commercial lawyer does.

Example answer: ‘A commercial lawyer offers legal advice to their clients for issues concerning their business. Their other duties may include drafting the company policy, offering legal advice on tax-related issues, drafting business contracts and representing the company in court.'

Related: What Does a Commercial Lawyer Do? 8 Common Duties (Plus Skills)

7. Tell us how you handle your caseload.

This question tests your time management skills as a lawyer and how you handle multiple cases or clients. This may help the hiring manager know how efficient you are and how many cases you can work on at a time. As a lawyer, time management skills are vital because they help you prioritise cases that are urgent.

Example answer: ‘I usually follow my work schedule strictly and ensure I have handled all pending cases before handling new ones. I assign each case enough time to work on it until completion. Following my schedule strictly and allocating enough time to my cases has been key to reducing my caseload.'

8. Please tell us how you handle the client's confidential information.

As a lawyer, building trust and maintaining a high level of integrity with your employer is essential. In an interview, the hiring manager may ask this question to determine how much the company can trust you with private information. When responding to this question, you can state the ways you may keep a client's information confidential. You can also state the importance of maintaining confidential information.

Example answer: ‘One way I maintain a high level of professionalism as a lawyer is by keeping the client's information out of the public domain. The legal professional privilege principle provides confidentiality between the client and their lawyer. I keep the client's information safe and access it only through a court ruling or authorisation by the client.'

9. What do you consider your major strength in law?

Hiring managers may ask this question to determine if you have the qualities that the company is looking for in a lawyer. When responding to this question, describe your biggest strength relevant to the position and how you used it in your previous job.

Example answer: ‘My former supervisor and colleagues have always complimented me on being good at listening and my ability to work collaboratively on cases. I listen keenly and note clients' issues, then later analyse the issue and offer possible legal advice to clients. I also like to work in a team when solving a complex case.'

Related: How to Answer the Interview Question “How Do You Define Success?”

Interview tips for lawyers

Below you can find some tips that can help you prepare for your interview:

  • Research the company: Doing research may help you understand the type of law the organisation practices and its main clientele. You may also research where the company is located to determine the salary you can request.

  • Dress appropriately: Dressing well shows your level of respect and professionalism. Dressing decently may also help promote confidence during the interview.

  • Carry a copy of an updated resume: Resumes are a crucial document in the interview process. You can add new legal skills and experience that you've gained to help the hiring manager assess whether you have the skills required for the job.

  • Carry a writing sample: As a lawyer, a writing sample can help the company understand your skill level. This documentation also shows your level of professionalism.

  • Arrive early at the interview venue: In an interview, punctuality is important. You can aim to arrive at the interview venue 15 minutes early to ensure you're on time for the interview.

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