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Mayer Brown Interview
Questions

27 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brunner

Published June 21st, 2019 | Ryan has over 10 years of experience interviewing
candidates in the healthcare, public service, and private manufacturing/distribution industries.
Question 1 of 27
Talk about the most difficult work situation you have found yourself in and explain how you used sound judgement to find a great outcome?
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How to Answer
During your training and through your career up to this point, you have certainly faced some difficult situations that you could easily discuss with your interviewer. But your interviewer isn't so much interested in the situation here as they are in your ability to think on your feet and use your best personal judgement to make the situation better. In the example you give, be sure to prepare for a time where you can exemplify this ability with success.
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1.
Talk about the most difficult work situation you have found yourself in and explain how you used sound judgement to find a great outcome?
During your training and through your career up to this point, you have certainly faced some difficult situations that you could easily discuss with your interviewer. But your interviewer isn't so much interested in the situation here as they are in your ability to think on your feet and use your best personal judgement to make the situation better. In the example you give, be sure to prepare for a time where you can exemplify this ability with success.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Early in my career as a litigator for a large firm that handled criminal defense cases, I was slammed with a very large caseload almost always. In the months leading up to the Christmas period, I had three high profile trials that were all progressing to dates that would fall very near each other. After motioning to have some of the cases moved around with no leniency from the court, I had to think fast and work ahead as much as possible to ensure that all three cases were handled to the best of my ability. When crunch time came, I approached a colleague and their paralegal for all of the help I could get and they willingly obliged. With all three cases heading to trial without a hitch, I was very thankful for my resourcefulness and made sure to pay the favor back to my colleague the next time he needed it!"
Ryan's Answer #2
"During my time arbitrating employment disputes for the state of California and mostly handling unemployment cases, I encountered one particularly difficult situation where things got physical in the conference room of the county workforce resource center. My cases mostly involved disputes when companies would fight the payment of unemployment benefits based on malfeasance of the employee. During one particular case, a tow truck company was disputing a claim by a terminated employee and during arbitration, the supervisor from the company accused the terminated employee of harassing other employees and creating a fearful work environment. With that said, the terminated employee reached over the table and grabbed the supervisor by the collar of his shirt and started swinging. Being a female that is small in stature, my first instinct was to run and grab a member of the building's security team and they reacted quickly. When matters had settled, I immediately postponed the hearing and warned both parties that security would be present in a week when we met again. A final warning to the terminated employee was to let him know that charges would be pressed if any outbursts should occur the next time."
2.
To ensure that our clients here at Mayer Brown are served in the best way possible, our staff must ensure that they are up to speed on all state and federal laws. How do you stay in touch with changes to local, state and federal tax laws?
While your years of education and experience in the field of tax law have prepared to you to work with the clients of Mayer Brown, your interviewer is looking to hear that you do what is necessary to stay up to date on changes in tax laws. Talk about the ways that you keep yourself educated and up to date in the field and make sure to speak with passion to your interviewer to show a true and genuine interest in your field.

Ryan's Answer #1
"As you can see from my resume, my dedication towards the tax law field immediately following law school when I pursued and attained my Masters in Law in Taxation degree. While this provided a very solid backbone for the start of my career, I am always actively learning more in the field through my pursuit of additional CLE credits and attending tax law seminars on a regular basis. And as any good attorney in this field, being tied at the hip to relevant materials directly from the IRS is always a plus. Being the tax nerd that I am, this comes pretty easy to me for some nighttime reading before bed."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In this industry, staying up to speed on changes in policy and law involved staying connected and doing my research whenever necessary. Involvement and regular discussion with colleagues in this industry helps us all stay informed and helps in ensuring that businesses are able to flourish. I have many great contacts in tax law that I meet with and have discussions with on a very regular basis."
3.
What do you feel is the most important skill that you possess that makes you effective in the litigation/arbitration process?
This is a twofold question where your interviewer is allowing you to talk about what you feel your best skills is as a litigator and/or arbitrator as well as letting you talk about what you feel is the most important quality of someone who is successful at trial or arbitration. Speak to your top strength and prove that it is vital to your success by using a specific example of a time that you've put it to use on the job.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Really my number one reason for pursuing a career in law has turned out to be what has made me the most successful I could be in my career and that is my verbal communication skills. In the courtroom setting, my persuasive skills come from a concise and logical place and this sits well with judges and juries alike. My communications skills extend to an innate ability to listen attentively and be witty enough to ask great follow up questions during cross examination."
Ryan's Answer #2
"If I am lucky enough to be hired here at Mayer Brown, you'll quickly find that my attention to detail makes me stand out from any other paralegal you have had on staff here. During the pre-trial process, I spend the extra time to dig for information that can help my firm win their case and any of the attorneys that I've worked alongside during my career would be willing to tell you that as well. Last year, I was researching a case and my close inspection of police reports noticed a blatant error made by officers during the arrest of a client. This was enough to have all charges dropped and put a big win on the books for our firm."
4.
Have you been involved in a corporate tax audit before? What did you learn from that experience?
Mayer Brown is often called upon for their legal guidance when a business is facing a tax audit. For this question, your interviewer is looking to see if you have experience working under IRS audit conditions and to hear what vital information you could bring to the team if hired. If you have experience, talk in detail about the type of organization you represented and what the audit entailed. If you don't have direct experience working with an IRS audit, talk about your working knowledge of the audit process and what your role would be in that.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Two years ago, I represented a small business that retained my firm after being notified of an audit. From the start, it was pretty easy to understand that the business owner had failed to report some pretty significant chunks of business income based on records that weren't reported. When it appeared like the IRS was poised to bring in their criminal investigation team, I worked with the client and the auditor to negotiate the standard settlement of interest on missed payment plus a 20% penalty. The client was extremely pleased to avoid potential stricter penalties and learned some important lessons moving forward with their business."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Two years ago, I was brought in to a very large, well known corporation that was receiving a tax audit from the IRS. While knowing that the accounting and finance procedures of the organization were spot on, my role was mainly to fully prepare them for the field audit that was happening in two weeks. Knowing the audit process well and reading the request from IRS, I was able to work with them on preparation for the field meeting in having all documentation prepared and being ready for any form of questions the auditors would bring. On the day of the audit, I was onsite representing the team and audit went very well."
5.
Where do you feel you could use some improvement in the litigation/arbitration process at this point in your career?
While this may seem like the age old question of pointing out your biggest weakness, it is important for you to see this question as more of an opportunity to point out where you may have some inexperience or deficiencies. This gives you the ability to talk about personal growth in your career and what you have done or would like to do to grow professionally in this area.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Having come out of law school and began in a high stress, high case load environment for the past six years, I haven't been able to really hone in on and craft my time management skills to the point I would like to. I most often relied on our paralegals and office secretary to keep me organized when things were busy. Coming to this role with Mayer Brown, I would look to learn from others about their best methods for time management without relying on the assistance of others."
Ryan's Answer #2
"As you can see from my experience on my resume, a majority of my litigation experience has come in the area of labor laws, work comp and FMLA. Now, I am at a point in my career where I'd love to branch out and hone my skills in other areas that interest me and I believe that opportunity exists for me here at Mayer Brown. In talking with some of your colleagues here, I'd love to take on and be a part of cases that involve the environment and energy."
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