This question gives you a great opportunity to talk about a time when you worked very well under intense pressure.
Legal Assistants Interview Questions
Do you work well under 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."
"Yes, I do work well under pressure. An example of this is when I was organising a careers networking night for the Australia China Youth Association. I had to manage my team to ensure that we were able to finish budgeting, writing up proposals, contacting company representatives by our deadlines. It was important for me to remain calm and professional in the situation to optimise efficiency within the team, despite the looming deadline."Lauren's Answer
Great situational example! Be mindful of spelling errors; I have altered the words “organize” and “prioritize” several times.
"Yes, I consider myself a person who handles stress and pressure very well. Being organized helps me to remain calm and diligent. I once organized a networking event for the Australia China Youth Association. This particular project was large in scale with many team members to manage. I was charged with finishing the budget, writing proposals, and contacting company representatives. I met all of the required deadlines with the use of a clear action plan and calendar system."Was this answer helpful? Yes (2) or No (0)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
How has your education prepared you to work for us?
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."
"Attending university enabled me to consolidate my organizational skills as well as my ability to prioritize tasks. I am still studying at the moment, but once I complete my intellectual property law units, I will have a deeper understanding of the law behind the work."Lauren's Answer
It would be helpful to provide a new response and sentiment. The question is repetitive, but try to make sure your response is not.
"I am currently immersed in knowledge and concepts that I can directly and actively put into use. I am increasing my knowledge base every day and would build upon my momentum by taking on this role."Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (1)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Why did you leave your last position?
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."
"I had to return to school to finish my education."Rachelle's Answer
Concise, and to the point!Was this answer helpful? Yes (0) or No (1)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
How has your college degree prepared you to work in this firm?
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."
"I feel that studying law has challenged me to prioritize tasks in order to meet deadlines. Studying enabled me to develop my organizational and time management skills. Communicating with group members and tutors allowed me to consolidate my interpersonal skills. Ultimately, I feel I have a more holistic understanding of the steps taken to address any legal issues."Lauren's Answer
Fantastic response. The interviewer getting a good sense of who you are and your level of readiness. You have the ability to collaborate with others and initiate productivity as a result of your educational experience thus far.
"Studying law has offered several vital experiences that will help me succeed. Studying enabled me to develop organizational and time management skills; I had to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines to achieve desirable grades. Communicating with peers, tutors, and professors broadened my interpersonal skills and my exposure to varying work styles and personalities. Ultimately, my college experience provided me a holistic approach and understanding of ways to address legal issues. I am confident in my abilities to take the next step and begin my career."Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"I did a lot of studying in college which gave me the organization and time management skills that I have now. I also communicated with my professors and advisors weekly which helped shape my communication skills. In terms of the actual coursework, I took a lot of classes that taught me about government and law. I think those have given me the knowledge to be able to do this job well."Rachelle's Answer
It sounds like your college education prepared you in many ways. You've done an excellent job communicating this.Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
How would you describe yourself?
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?"
"I would describe myself as resilient and hard working. I grew up in a household that embraced working hard for what you get, and I've carried that work ethic throughout schooling and all work experiences. I have a genuine interest in law and entrepreneurship, and intellectual property law protects the intersection of these two areas."Lauren's Answer
Great response. Your answer is unique and personalized, which the interviewer will appreciate.
"I describe myself as a resilient, hard-working individual. I grew up in a household that embraced hard work, and these values have carried me through my educational and career advancements. I have a genuine interest in law and entrepreneurship, so this opportunity to work in IP Law is especially unique and dynamic."Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"I have always been a hard-working person. I grew up in a household that embraced working for what you get, and I have always been fully prepared to do that into my professional career. I do genuinely enjoy the law and things of that nature. I would say that it is one of my biggest interests in life. I've also come to find out that I enjoy working in team environments, even if that is a team of people all doing completely separate tasks."Rachelle's Answer
Good response! I have reworded it simply for the sake of flow. I did remove the final sentence on teamwork as it didn't seem to add any impact to your previous 'about you' statements.
"I would first describe myself as hard-working. I grew up in a household that embraced working hard for what you get, and have always been prepared to do so, from school and into my professional career. I have a genuine interest in the law, human rights, and how the two come together. I would say the topic of human rights is one of my bigger interests when it comes to the law."Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Are your grades a good indication of your academic achievement?
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."
"I think that my grades are not the best indication of my academic capabilities but they definitely do highlight areas of improvement. I have always been academically capable, evidenced by the scholarships I've received in the past. Unfortunately, I did not do as well as I had hoped during the first few years when my family experienced extreme financial disadvantage, however, my grades have been rising due to prioritization and being able to adapt to my new circumstances."Lauren's Answer
Your transparency is commendable; I added supplementary language that will help convey your message.
"Like a CV or resume, my grades are not a complete summarization of my abilities, strengths, and uniqueness. I have always been academically inclined, as evidenced by my awards and scholarships. Unfortunately, I have not performed as well academically over the past couple of years due to personal family circumstances. I have, however, steadily improved my grades in recent times. I am adapting to new conditions and hopefully look forward to completing my education to embark on the next chapter in my career track."Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"Absolutely. If you guys would like to look at my transcripts, you will see that during my first year at college I did not do well. Without making excuses, I took myself to community college where I could really spend some time bettering those grades and learning better habits. From there on I went back to my university for my junior and senior years and was on the Dean's List several times."Rachelle's Answer
It sounds like you made some very dedicated choices to your educational career! I am sure you already know, but avoid the term 'guys' in a real interview :)Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
What are the main components of a case file and what steps are carried out to file a case?
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."
"I briefly understand it to include case summarising, material collection and organization and legal research. This is an area that I would need to learn more about. At uni, I read plenty of cases and opinions, but in terms of compacting everything relevant to a trial and filing it, I would need more knowledge on that."Lauren's Answer
I altered your response to draw less attention to your inexperience with this particular area. See my suggestion below.
"This would be an area of growth for me, and I welcome the opportunity to learn more. The case must be summarized; the material would be collected and organized, as well as legal research conducted."Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"This is something about which I would need to learn more. In college I did read plenty of cases and opinions and even wrote my own legal brief, but in terms of compacting everything relevant to a trial and filing it, I would need some more knowledge on that."Rachelle's Answer
Very honest answer. If you are interviewing for an entry-level role out of school, they likely will not ask this one.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Can you give me an example of a situation where you demonstrated an eye for detail?
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."
"Although this isn't specifically related to the legal field, in my previous work experience as a waitress, I had to bake slices and cakes for catering. There were times when decorations weren't placed exactly like the other pieces, and I would make sure to scan through all of them and tweaked any that were not uniform."Lauren's Answer
There is a way to take your example and equate it to your legal role. See my suggestion below.
"I previously worked for a caterer and had to ensure all plates were presented uniformly. My attention to detail was used just as much in that role, as it is as a legal assistant. When conducting research, I am locating discrepancies or critical pieces of information in the midst of a large volume of documents. I have always utilized a high level of attention to detail throughout my body of work, and I only envision this skill to be heightened and sharpened over time."Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"Although this isn't completely related to the legal field, in my previous work experience as a busser, I had to expo, which means I had to organize the food coming out on the line with the tickets. There were a few times when people were about to take trays out with the wrong items on them."Rachelle's Answer
Your answer is not related to the legal field but is still very relevant when it comes to your eye for detail. Good response :)Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
How do you manage your research work considering there is so much to look through?
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."
"I am very good at prioritizing my work and in my previous legal internship, I was able to consolidate this skill. As a legal intern with no knowledge of New York Law, I had to quickly acquaint myself with the trademark filing process as well as the business database to ensure I could complete all tasks in a timely manner. I did work overtime when required and I will ask for assistance when required."Lauren's Answer
You are definitely expressing resourcefulness and not shying away from things you are unfamiliar with. Thinking quickly on your toes and fully immersing yourself in a new role will be very attractive to the interviewer.
"I manage large-scale projects such as research work by prioritizing each piece and setting clear deadlines. In my previous internship, I had no prior knowledge of New York Law. I quickly acclimated myself to their trademark filing process and the business database to complete all tasks promptly. I worked overtime to account for the learning curve and asked for assistance when needed."Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Tell us about a time you had to handle a difficult client.
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."
"At my previous legal internship, I had a distraught client who was handling a complicated divorce. She was scared for her safety and kept calling me repeatedly throughout the day to express her concerns. I was able to calm her down by listening and being empathetic but also was assertive that I wasn't qualified to advise on her current situation and that she should contact the police instead. My previous employer commended me for my professional conduct and said that the client had given highly positive feedback."Lauren's Answer
You have provided a great example for the interviewer. You are calm under pressure, and remain proactive versus reactive when faced with challenging clients. I assisted with some supplemental language. See below.
"At my previous legal internship, I assisted a client who was distraught during a complicated divorce. She feared for her safety and reached out to me several times a day to express concerns. I deescalated her calls by listening intently and nonjudgmentally while offering her practical advice and firm boundaries. I referred her to police authorities and stated that I was not qualified to provide advice on the situation. The client felt heard and assisted, resulting in positive feedback from her and my previous employer. When dealing with a difficult client, I remain proactive versus reactive; I attend to situations calmly and rationally."Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Do you enjoy working as part of a team?
This is an important question to answer in a positive and slightly neutral way. Unless you know for sure if this firm offers a highly collaborative team environment, you want to avoid answering in a way that paints you into a corner.
"I do enjoy working as part of a team. I am productive in both a team and independent environment. Do you offer a strong team environment here, or are you more individually task driven?"
"I do enjoy working as part of a team, and I find it helpful at certain times. However, I also enjoy independent work."Rachelle's Answer
Concise and to the point. You are independent while also being a team player. Well done!Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"I enjoy working as part of a team but can work efficiently in both a team environment and individually. I feel that to be able to best contribute to a team setting; I need to be able to efficiently work individually to produce great solutions which can be built upon within a team setting."Lauren's Answer
Great response. You see the value each individual possesses in order for the team to be successful. I altered your response slightly.
"I enjoy working as a team, as it serves as an opportunity to display my strengths. I believe each person in a group must work efficiently and effectively for the entire project to be successful. I enjoy contributing to a team effort as well as taking on individual projects and tasks."Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
What is your greatest strength? Greatest weakness?
When you answer this question be sure to talk about what you are really good at and what you are improving on. It's always best if you can talk about the steps that you are currently taking to improve yourself.
"I have been told many times that my greatest strength is my ability to time-manage. This means that I consistently meet my deadlines and am able to deliver when I need to. The aspect I am working to improve would be my detailed documentation. I have been working on improving my notes so that anyone could pick up my files and fully understand where I was at, in my work."
"My greatest strength would be flexibility. This allows me to time-manage and prioritise tasks to meet deadlines, while being prepared to address any new information or changes. At my previous legal internship, I had meetings and phone calls scheduled with different clients throughout the day. I had to balance these alongside my primary legal assignments so that I was able to complete tasks in a timely manner. An aspect I am working to improve would be overthinking. Sometimes I will overanalyze and overthink a situation which can lead to me doubting myself and the outcome. I've been actively telling myself to take a moment to step back and reevaluate the situation in a more macro sense."Lauren's Answer
It would be helpful to add how you envision the firm can assist in lessening your weaknesses. Don’t harp too long or discuss your weaknesses in length of detail.
"My most notable strength is flexibility. In my previous legal internship, I juggled primary legal assignments, meetings, phone calls, and unforeseen tasks throughout the day; Flexibility, Time Management, and Prioritization were essential in my success. Currently, my greatest weakness is overthinking. I believe the experience I gain at Legal Assistants will allow me to sharpen my skills and provide me more confidence to address my needs to overanalyze."Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"I would say my greatest strength would be my persistence. I always want to do well at whatever I am doing, and I will go to great lengths to ensure that I am doing my job as well as I can. I'm also very organized and good with time management. My greatest weakness is something that I have been working on a lot within the past year, and that is public speaking. I can do it, but I want to feel more confident and get to a place where I am not always so nervous about doing it."Rachelle's Answer
Perfect response! The interviewer will be looking for ways that you are actively improving your weakness, which you readily answered.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
What qualities do you feel are most important for a successful legal assistant?
This is a good opportunity to talk about your soft skills and why they make you a good fit for the position. Some important skills to have as a Legal Assistant should include: Diligent, Organized, Strong Communication, and Detail-Oriented.
"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."
"I feel that strong time-management, communication, and attention to detail are vital to being a successful legal assistant. From my knowledge, legal assistants are highly flexible as they need to manage and draft a lot of case files but also provide secretarial support to the broader team. They're the glue that enables the team to work more efficiently."Lauren's Answer
Great response. Though I made minor grammatical edits, you provided a well-rounded and thoughtful answer.
"I believe a successful legal assistant is a person who possesses strong time management skills, communication, and attention to detail. These qualities are essential to maintain multiple projects at one time and fulfill duties for multiple staff members. A successful assistant is flexible while managing case files and open to lending support to the broader team; they are the glue that enables the team to work smoothly and efficiently."Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)Thank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"The most important qualities that I think are essential for a successful legal assistant are organization, time management, and communication. I also believe that having a general passion or like for what you are doing in necessary too, as it keeps you motivated to want to do well. I think that I have all of these qualities."Rachelle's Answer
Excellent! It's great that you added in the fact that you possess these qualities, too.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Which areas of law are you most interested in?
This is a simple question to weed out any candidates who have an interest in Law outside of what the law firm specializes in. Also, be sure to re-read the job description and know exactly which attorney or attorneys you will be serving under. Find out what Law these attorneys specialize in. If you need help locating this information, a simple search on the firm's website or a LinkedIn page should tell you.
"I have always been most interested in Family Law because of the variety between each case. I understand that a lot of what your firm does, is in Family Law?"
"I am interested in any kind of law that focuses on human rights. I have always been dedicated to being educated on all kinds of humanitarian, social, and cultural issues, so that pairs well with my love for and interest in law. I would also say that I am highly interested in criminal law because of all of the other kinds of issues that intersect with that area of law in general."Rachelle's Answer
Great response, and very thorough.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
How do you check your work for accuracy?
As a Legal Assistant, being accurate is an absolute must. The interviewer will want to hear the various ways you are sure to handle all of your work with diligence and accuracy. Highlight the steps you take to make sure the attorneys receiving your work is 100% accurate.
"Once my work is complete, I am sure to give it a second review and sometimes will ask for another set of eyes if necessary. I have very strong research skills which are a great trait when it comes time to cross-referencing the facts of a case. To remain organized, I utilize a program called 'XYZ' which keeps me on task and on time."
"I always double-check my work for accuracy. If possible, I like to get a third party to review the information. However, I have strong research and time management skills which allows me to easily cross-reference any facts. Often I'll use the app tools to organize my tasks into different projects and set timelines for each accordingly."Lauren's Answer
Wonderful response. You have created organizational systems that enable you to work efficiently. I supplemented your response to reflect your analytical work style.
"Throughout my career, I have fine-tuned my organizational and time management skills. As an analytical thinker, I have created systems to keep me on-time and accurate. With the use of calendaring applications, I set clear deadlines for each project, and allot time to double-check and cross-reference my work. And, if time allows, I receive third-party feedback as well."Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
"I go the extra mile to double, triple, and quadruple check to be sure. In documents, I find it important to read them out loud, so it's easier to catch any spelling errors. If possible, I will have another person look it over, but that's not always an option."Rachelle's Answer
Your method of checking for accuracy is good, and very specific.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Why are you the best candidate for us?
How can you contribute to our firm?
What are your long and short range career goals and objectives?
What two or three things are most important to you in a job?
What have you learned from the other attorneys/paralegals you've spoken with today?
What goals, other than those related to your legal career, have you established for yourself for the next 10 years?
Do you understand the impact you, even as a legal assistant, will have on the lives of our clients?
What type of work environment would allow you do to your best work?
What subject did you like the most at school? Why?
How do you deal with sensitive or confidential information?
Can you give me an example of a situation where you needed to deal with multiple priorities at once and how you deal with it?
How do you handle stressful situations?
Why did you choose to pursue a career as a Legal Assistant?
What are you doing to better yourself as a Legal Assistant?
How familiar are you with the law we practice at our firm, or the law I specialize in?