Students and law firms are gearing up for the hectic campus interview season. While the number of law students vying for these competitive positions can be intimidating, a solid strategy can help you stand out from the pack. Baker Botts Hiring Partners from across the U.S. provide some tips to help you successfully navigate the interview process.
Your first introduction to the law firm is your resume. Employers will receive a deluge of resumes so be sure you have read, re-read and had a friend read your resume for any errors. You don’t want to be dismissed out of the gate for an inadvertent typo. If you lack attention to detail with your materials, an employer will assume that your work product will also be lacking. Your resume should be accompanied by a cover letter which clearly articulates why you are interested in the firm. Austin Hiring Partner Nick Schuneman advises, “Your cover letter should highlight your geographic preference(s) and practice area of interest.” View your cover letter and resume through the lens of advocacy—are you making a persuasive case for the practice area, particular employer, and market to which you are applying?
Do Your Diligence
A successful interview day begins well before your walk into the actual interview. New York Hiring Partner Terence Rozier-Byrd suggests, “Talk to your friends who have recently been summer associates at the firm to gain their insights about practice areas, culture and interviewers.” This will give you the most accurate picture of the firm and what you can expect as a summer associate. Palo Alto Hiring Partner Jon Swenson recommends, “Come up with a few questions that are important for you to ask about how the firm compares to others.” He also suggests, “Study the firm and interviewers ahead of time.” Many law students fail to complete this critical piece of the preparation process. Washington, D.C. Hiring Partner Kyle Clark adds, “Research your interviewer. It will help you gather information relevant to your job search and help you connect with your interviewer (e.g., why they became a corporate lawyer with their educational/work background).” Be armed with basic knowledge—How many offices does the firm have? What are the major practice areas (make sure that the firm does in fact have the practice area in which you are interested!)? What is a recent deal or case for which the firm has received press? San Francisco Hiring Partner Stuart Plunkett advises, “Learn something about each of the law firms you are interviewing with, recognizing that all firms are not the same.”
The Interview Day
The interview day is here. Today is not the day to try a more fashionable trend or bold color. Be yourself, but be your most professional self. To ensure that you confidently convey your interest, be prepared to discuss your practice area(s) of interest. According to Swenson, “Even if you have no relevant experience in the type of law you want to practice, have a concise explanation for your interest.” Swenson also emphasized avoiding feigned interest in a particular area of law because you think it may increase your chances of securing a position. Be authentic and honest about your goals. Clark added “You should be prepared to discuss anything you have included on your resume. (e.g., an undergraduate paper or award; why you decided to apply for law review). Be sure to highlight why that experience/item is valuable to your current job search.” If your interviewer doesn’t ask you about a potential perceived weakness, or as Rozier-Byrd put it “poor grades, gaps in education or employment or a circuitous route to law school” then you should provide a picture that showcases positive attributes, such as dedication and a commitment to excellence. While they may not ask, someone at the firm will inquire and you should arm your interviewer with your response. Finally, if you ask questions at the end of the interview, Rozier-Byrd suggests using this as an opportunity to ask “thoughtful questions that demonstrate your intellectual curiosity, research skills and interest in the firm or your interviewer’s practice.”
This is a sponsored blog post from Baker Botts. You can view Baker Botts' Vault profile here.
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