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Interviewing for 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls

1l Interviews

Understand that your options are limited during your 1L interviewing season. This is because most legal employers prefer to fill their summer positions with 2Ls, who have more experience and are more likely to accept offers of permanent employment. Because 1Ls often use summer jobs as a stepping stone to more lucrative job opportunities next year, you must convince your interviewers of your sincere desire to do well and to return.

Location, location, location

Your ties to an area will significantly improve your chances of getting offers from employers in that area. Therefore, you should emphasize your desire to work in a certain location during your interviews. If interviewing with small firms, emphasize your desire to spend the next two summers in a firm where you hope to end up working for many years to come. If you have family or friends in the area, you may want to highlight your intent to move closer to them upon graduation. If you went to school there or lived there before, clearly articulate to your interviewers why you want to reside permanently in a certain geographical area. If, on the other hand, your only connection to the area is your desire to vacation there or your inability to get interviews anywhere else, you need to get creative. Never say “I am interested in working here because your firm is here” or “I only got a callback from you.” Instead, explain what special qualities make this employer your number one choice and why you also want to be in this particular area.

When Brett interviewed as a 1L, he told his Boston employers about growing up in metropolitan area and how he was looking to return to big-city life upon graduation. He then explained why Boston and this particular employer were his number-one choice. To his Memphis employers, Brett said this was a city where his grandmother was born, and he wanted to return to his roots. Finally, he related his desire to move his family to a small town in Alabama to his Alabama interviewers. He explained that he had no ties anywhere, and that he had researched the area and found it to be a perfect place in to raise a family, grow old, and develop a professional reputation and close ties with the community. All of Brett's answers were sincere, and his efforts to secure a job were successful.

Be prepared

For many students, 1L year brings their first encounter with the interviewing process. Be prepared. Start by scheduling mock interviews with your school's career services. They will help you gain confidence and reveal the mistakes you would otherwise make during the actual interviews. Additionally, ask your career services whether there are any alumni willing to “mock” interview you. Interviews with law school alumni offer real-life perspective for how legal interviews work and give you yet another chance to brush up your skills. Finally, recruit a friend or family member a day before your interview and practice with him or her. Give him or her a list of questions to ask you and seek critiques of your answers, demeanor, and preparation. You will discover that these exercises are most helpful in learning how to interview effectively.

Emphasize experience

During your 1L year, employers have limited information about your skills and abilities. As a result, be prepared to discuss other attributes that will help them conclude that you can pull your weight at the firm. Avoid complaining about the stress of your 1L year or about how difficult your job search is. By this time in their careers, your interviewers have seen the real stress, and they will not be sympathetic to your complaints. Instead, focus on your grades, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, writing experience, and research skills.

Amber secured multiple offers by promoting her skills to her interviewers. She told them she was the only 1L in her school who had obtained both Lexis and Westlaw certification. She also emphasized her high grades for legal writing assignments and her experience as a school newspaper editor. Although her GPA was nowhere near perfect, she was able to convince the employers that her research and writing skills made her a strong candidate.

For small firms, which often lack sufficient resources to train junior attorneys, your ability to hit the ground running is especially important. During interviews with small firms, discuss your performance in classes relevant to the firm's practice, any positive feedback you received on your writing, and your people skills. If you have relevant undergraduate training or language skills, which may help the firm obtain new clients or give your more responsibility, point them out, as well.

Seek alternative summer jobs

If you are unsuccessful in receiving firm interviews, remember that you still have firm internships, government positions, research assistantships, nonprofit, pro bono, and judicial internships open to you. Also keep in mind solo practitioners, who often hire law students on an hourly basis during the summer. And realize that your 1L summer is a good time to explore workplaces you may want to join eventually but cannot afford initially because of student loans. This is a great time to ascertain what it would be like to be an assistant district attorney, a general counsel for an NGO, an in-house lawyer for a small tech company, a junior executive in the entertainment industry, or a lawyer in a four-person boutique.

Although these jobs do not pay much, if anything, they will offer great experience and provide you with a solid resume booster for your interviews next year. When interviewing for government positions, remember to review Clerkship Interviews and Government Interviews. Also be prepared to discuss law school classes, legal subjects, and famous cases, because questions on these topics are more common during these types of interviews.

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsInterviewing for 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls - 1l Interviews, 2l Interviews, 3l Interviews