This is a good opportunity to talk about your soft skills and why they make you a good fit for the position.
"I feel that the most important qualities for a legal assistant to have would be a keen eye for detail, strong time-management and strong communication skills. You must have these to be successful in this career. I have managed to fine tune these skills over the years and can confidently say that I have these abilities."
When answering this question be sure to tell the interviewer about your strongest skills, and perhaps some unique ones that set you apart from the rest of the candidates.
"I feel I am the best candidate for you because I am highly skilled and experienced in divorce law, which is your firm's primary focus. Also, I am bilingual which makes me able to assist English and Spanish speaking clients."
The interviewer is looking for less of an obvious answer and more of an answer that focus' on the soft skills or transferrable skills that you gained while attending college.
"In addition to the knowledge in Law, I gained some really valuable skills while attending college. My ability to meet deadlines while working under pressure was a big one for me. College also taught me how to prioritize and juggle a large variety of tasks. All of these skills are ones that I look forward to bringing you and your firm."
This is a great question for highlighting your soft skills on our resume again.
"I bring 6 solid years of work as a Legal Assistant and a very strong work ethic. I am a fast-thinker and a great multi-tasker. I would be happy to contribute all of these skills, and more, to your firm."
It is important for a hiring manager to know that they are hiring a very career driven person. You can answer this question in two parts.
"My long term career goal would be to further my education as a paralegal and then eventually become a lawyer myself. My short term goal is to create a very strong reputation for myself in the industry as a trustworthy and knowledgable legal assistant."
Why would you stay in a position vs why would you leave a role? What workplace values do you put the most stock into? You should answer this confidently and matter-of-factly.
"The top three things I hold most important in a job would be transparency, honesty and positivity."
You can keep this answer short and sweet as there is no need to go on and on about yourself. What the interviewer is really looking for are a few keywords that describe how you see yourself. It would be smart to finish your answer with a question about what they are looking for, in their successful candidate.
"I would describe myself as a hard worker, task-focused and efficient. Are those some of the skills you are looking for in your next Legal Assistant?"
This question will be asked if you spent time earlier in the interview, either sitting down with other members of their team, or job shadowing for a short time. Your answer should be very positive and upbeat.
"Thank you for the opportunity to speak with other members of your team today! Everyone here seems very happy to be working at this firm. I have gained more insight into the level of team work you have in this office, and I really like what I see. I would love the opportunity to work with you and your team."
Hiring managers always want to know that they are hiring someone with personal goals, and drive. It is absolutely okay to talk about those goals but make sure that they are not contradictory to a long-term career with this potential employer.
"10 years from now, I would like to have purchased my own home. Also, I would like to have enough money saved to take a really great trip to Thailand. Another goal is to further my education and turn my diploma into a degree. Those would, of course, be evening or weekend courses."
This question can be a tough one but it's intended to make you think a bit deeper into where your focus was during your post-secondary education. If you did not earn the GPA that you wanted, own up to it.
"I graduated with a 3.4 GPA which I was satisfied with given that I was also working a full time job in the evenings and weekends while attending school."
Tell the interviewer a short story about a time when you made a change or caught a critical error in a case file.
"Last month when I was working a divorce file I noticed that one of the pieces of artwork was not itemized in the final draft. I was able to fix that error before anything was submitted. This saved us, and our client, a lot of additional time and potential conflict."
How do you work best? Independent or with a team? Do you need to be in a very calm or quiet environment in order to do your best work? Be sure to give a solid answer and then you can ask a follow up question afterward.
"I do my best work when I am with a like-minded and collaborative team. I find that when there are other people to draw ideas and answers from, it makes for a very strong work environment. How would you describe the environment in your firm?"
When you answer this, be sure to give clear steps and show that you have a solid understanding of the process.
"The main components of a case file are case summarizing, material collection and organization, and law research."
You will want to show the interviewer that you care about your job and understand the impact you have made so far in your career.
"Yes, I absolutely understand the impact that I can make on the lives of my clients. They depend on me to pay attention to the details and they rely on me to have the best communication style so that everything goes as smoothly as possible. I am very thankful to be in a position where I can make a positive impact on people's lives."
If you left your last position without having a new one in place, this can be a red flag for a potential employer. Be sure to answer this question truthfully. The likelihood that you will be asked this question is high so be sure to practice the answer. Remember: there is a big difference between being terminated and being laid off. If you were terminated, you need to own that and be sure to have a good reply ready.
"In my last position there were some difficulties between myself and a paralegal. I felt she was not working in an ethical manner and brought it to my supervisors' attention. Because she was the more senior paralegal, I was asked to step down from my role due to our inability to collaborate effectively. The lawyer I supported is willing to be a positive reference regarding my work abilities."
Be sure to answer this question by giving an example of a time when you had an extraordinarily large amount of research work and a tight deadline.
"I am very good at prioritizing my work and now that I have more years' experience as a Legal Assistant, managing a large work load has become much easier. Just last month I had a very tight deadline for a case that required a lot of research. I did work many overtime hours for that case. I am absolutely open to working overtime when required. I will also ask for assistance when required."
When you answer this question, you should be prepared with an example of a time when you had a difficult client. Be sure to tell the interviewer about the positive outcome and any feedback you received from a supervisor.
"I had a situation with a very difficult client just last week. We were handling his very complicated divorce and he was on edge. The client began to yell at me on the phone, demanding that he speak with his lawyer that moment. I was able to calm him down by simply listening and saying things like 'I understand'. I did receive positive feedback later on in regards to how well I handled that situation and the client ended up apologizing the next time he saw me."
This is a great opportunity to show the interviewer that you did some research on their firm prior to the interview. Be sure to highlight any of your work experience that you think would be comparable to what it is they do.
"From the research I have done, I see that your firm specializes in Family Law and Divorce. The past 4 years of my career have been primarily focused on those areas of law as well. In total, I have 5 years' experience as a legal assistant within family law."
When you answer this question be sure to talk about how great you are with confidential and sensitive matters. Perhaps bring up a time when you were complimented by someone within the firm on your strong sense of professionalism.
"I have a very high level of professionalism and am often commended on my ability to keep sensitive information safe. I always follow protocol and am sure to treat sensitive information with the utmost care."
Be sure to have a few real-life examples in mind that you can draw from for questions such as this. Give a brief example and be sure to keep it positive. IE: "There are many times a year when I have multiple cases that I am working on, and they all have the same priority level of 'urgent'. I am able to manage these situations by ensuring that I utilize my time well. I block off sections of my day for strict research and am sure to do away with distractions such as constantly stopping to check email. My current employer often comments on my strong multi-tasking abilities."
"There are many times a year when I have multiple cases that I am working on, and they all have the same priority level of 'urgent'. I am able to manage these situations by ensuring that I utilize my time well. I block off sections of my day for strict research and am sure to do away with distractions such as constantly stopping to check email. My current employer often comments on my strong multi-tasking abilities."
When you answer this question be sure to include specific courses that were especially helpful to your career. You can also talk about any additional training.
"When I was attending university, I would have to say that my favourite, and most applicable course, was the Family Law Procedures course. Attending post-secondary education, in itself, taught me a lot about managing deadlines and being efficient with my time."
When answering this question, be sure to include topics that would be related to this new position.
"When I was attending University, my favourite subject was Family Law. I found the variety in each case to be very interesting. There was always something new to learn. This is part of the reason that I would love to work in your firm - because you focus solely on Family Law."
Is there a specific time you can think of when you first knew that you wanted to pursue a career as a Legal Assistant? This question gives you an opportunity to talk a little bit about yourself from a personal perspective.
"When I was growing up, my mom worked as a legal assistant. I really admired how important her work was, and saw how much she enjoyed it. She seemed so smart to me - knowing all of these legal terms, and always having a good answer for things. Naturally, I was drawn to this career and am happy that I pursued it!"
Are you taking any additional courses? Are you reading case studies on your spare time? Do you want to advance your career in any way? These are all examples that you can give when answering this question.
"I am currently taking a weekend course to become a stronger user in Excel. I really do enjoy bettering myself and am looking at taking an additional course in Estate Procedures as well."
Being a Legal Assistant can be a very stressful career. When you answer this question it is good to acknowledge that and talk about a time when you have been complimented on your ability to manage stress very well.
"Being a Legal Assistant can be a stressful job. I have become more accustomed to the stress of deadlines and large work loads over time and feel that I handle stress really well. I will take a moment to take a deep breath, and re-think my strategy when I become overwhelmed with stress. My colleagues have often complimented me on my ability to stay calm throughout stressful times."
This question gives you a great opportunity to talk about a time when you worked very well under intense pressure.
"Yes, I do work very well under pressure. One example of this is when I worked in my previous firm I was a legal assistant to 2 full time lawyers, and one part time. I heard from them a lot that I always managed the pressure in a very professional and calm way."
Although lawyers assume ultimate responsibility for legal work, they often delegate many of their tasks to paralegals. In fact, paralegals, also called legal assistants, are continuing to assume new responsibilities in legal offices and perform many of the same tasks as lawyers. Nevertheless, they are explicitly prohibited from carrying out duties considered to be within the scope of practice of law, such as setting legal fees, giving legal advice, and presenting cases in court.