Law Internship Interview Questions and Answers

Law Training Contract Application Specialists

Law vacation schemes, internships and training contracts require an intricate blend of knowledge and reflection. Here, we will cover 10 of the most important questions – each with a model answer.

Personal Attributes

Have you ever faced particular difficulties whilst working in a team?

I faced particular difficulties whilst working as part of a team for a project in my final year of undergraduate studies. The teams were allotted randomly, and my team of four had two students who were highly unmotivated. It was vital to the team’s success that each team member put effort in, as we each had one domain that we had to handle – this was determined by the tutor. I was able to cover my own domain efficiently. However, I tried to organise check-ins where we worked together and updated each other, and the two less-motivated students did not attend. They also did not reply to messages. I therefore had to wait until our next seminar, which they did attend. I spoke to each student in private to ask them whether they were working on the project, and whether I could help them. It transpired that one student was having a very difficult time in their personal life, and I empathised with them. We were able to develop a plan together to deal with the situation. However, the other student was simply lacking motivation and made little effort to collaborate with me. I therefore asked them to speak to the tutor to explain that they were not inputting to the project. They refused. I therefore informed them that I would speak to the tutor on their behalf, as I had no other choice. I did this, and the tutor was understanding. We divided their domain up between the other three of us.

Please give us an example of a time that you have shown flexibility.

I played rugby for the 2nd XV at university when in my second year, which was a good team but one that was plagued with injuries. I was supposed to play wing. However, in the lead up to important matches we had injuries to (at different points) one of the centres, our full back, and a flanker. Each time, the team captain asked me to step up and switch positions, as we had another great winger waiting on the bench, but no one who was particularly strong in the other positions – and the other winger was only comfortable on the wing. I was happy to step up and play where I was needed, to make sure that the team could succeed. This flexibility on my part was part of the recipe that allowed us to win a string of games that season.

How can you demonstrate that you have resilience?

I demonstrated resilience in my first year of university, when I was involved in an RTA, which saw a car hit me whilst I walked down the road to a lecture. I was hospitalised, and left unable to walk for more than a month. I fell behind on my studies, and was angry at the driver who had left me in such a state and driven off without stopping. I realised that I would either continue to become more bitter and fall further behind on work, or I would turn this difficult experience to a positive one. I tried to reflect on how lucky I was that I had not been hurt more, and drove myself to work as hard as I could to catch up on university work. Looking back, I am now always able to use this experience to teach me that I can come through difficult experiences and become stronger. 

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Situational Judgement and Behaviour

What would you do if you fell behind on your work here?

I would want to understand why I’m falling behind before I take any further action. I would therefore assess whether it is due to a problem on my part, whether it is due to a lack of training, whether the work is simply incredibly difficult, etc. I would then take this information and act on it as appropriate. If the falling behind is due to me, is it because I am not balancing my work well enough? Am I not spending enough time learning outside of work, or indeed on the job? I would need to be honest with myself and act where appropriate. I would also speak to a senior colleague for help, be it a problem on my part or not. I would seek their advice on how to proceed. I would also speak to colleagues about how they handle the work. If needed, I would seek support from friends and confide in them to make sure that I was feeling alright outside of work.

How would you handle a situation in which you disagreed entirely with your client’s point of view?

I would need to understand the context of the disagreement before I could explain how I would handle it. I would like to start by considering what issue is at the root of the disagreement – is it core to the project and our professional relationship? Or is it less relevant? This could impact how I proceed. I would then want to work with the client to understand their point of view. I would like to hear them explain it, and then see if I missed something, or could agree with them in light of new evidence or information. If we continued to disagree, then I would speak to a senior on my team for advice on how best to proceed, as I would not want to take a decision that could endanger my relationship with the client.

Describe a time you worked with people from other backgrounds or cultures.

I had to work with people from a different background to my own when I did a six week placement working in a hospital in Belize. Whilst Belize is English speaking, their English is very different to our own – they speak Creole – and the country is impoverished and idiosyncratic. Violence is rife throughout both the capital city and the country as a whole. However, I found those that I worked alongside to be hugely inspiring. There were a variety of nationalities represented in the hospital staff, but the majority were Cuban or Belizean. Listening to their stories put many of my own experiences in perspective, and they were able to handle difficult patients with ease. It was clear that having such a range of backgrounds on the team was vital to its success, as it allowed the staff to understand those who came to them for help. This experience of working in an interdisciplinary team was of particular interest for me when considering a career in law, as I am aware that I would work with other lawyers, clients, paralegals, secretaries, HR, etc. 

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Work Experience & Working with Others

Demonstrate how you have shown responsibility during your work or work experience so far.

I took responsibility, and showed responsibility, whilst undertaking a vacation scheme last summer. At this firm we were told upon arriving that one person had to nominate themselves as the ‘representative’ for the students on the vacation scheme, and they would be the primary contract for the firm when for ensuring that the others were happy, that working hours were fair, and that the work and training was interesting varied. I nominated myself, and therefore immediately took responsibility upon myself. One of the other trainees then suffered a very significant personal problem whilst the scheme was underway. I therefore helped them to speak to the firm and plan a way of approaching the rest of the vacation scheme. I believe that this was illustrative of my ability and willingness to take responsibility and benefit others in my place of work. 

When have you taken the initiative to help someone?

Whilst undertaking a vacation scheme last summer, I realised that another of the students there was struggling. They were clearly very capable, and confident in their interactions, yet multiple times they almost broke down and had to leave the room. One lunch time, they appeared and had clearly been crying. I therefore took them aside later that day and explained that I had noticed that they appeared upset. I told them that, whilst I did not know them well, I wanted to support them if possible. I used open questions to allow them to share, like saying ‘is there anything that you’d like to share with me that might make you feel better?’ It transpired that their mother had been hospitalised after suffering a heart attack a few days ago, and they had felt it necessary to continue the vacation scheme whilst this went on in the background. I therefore told them that I would support them however necessary, and in the end I provided emotional and practical support for them and created a plan that saw them speak to the firm and arrange an adjusted vacation scheme, with time to see their mother too.

Do you enjoy working under pressure?

Ideally, I would want to work efficiently in a team and office that was well-run and that therefore did not produce a particularly pressured environment. However, I do find that pressure drives me to produce excellent work. An example would be my finals at university. I studied Medicine, which meant that – no matter how much one had revised – there was a huge amount of content left to learn as we came to the end of six years of studying. I had to work 14 hour days each day for more than a month, with the knowledge that I had a battery of exams in the very near future. I found that the pressure allowed me to focus, and motivated me. In a way, I found it energising, and found that I was able to use it to drive myself and thus drive my performance. 

What is the best team that you have worked in?

To decide what would be the best team, I need to first define what makes a great team. I would define a great team as one that has clearly defined roles, a strong leader who understands their team, people that take responsibility for their actions, honesty in the team, and solid communication. I was selected to be part of a team that would represent our school at a student summit, which had students from across the world debating a range of issues. The team from my school would attend and debate issues with others. I was proud to be selected, and found that the team worked fantastically together. We were all clear communicators, and set out clear goals from the outset. We ensured that everyone had a well-defined role, and that we could all ask for help from one another whenever we needed it. We were led by one of my school’s deputy head teachers, who was inspirational and empathetic, and who we all felt we could speak to about any problem.

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