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LegalJob meets with many candidates that try to hide or sugarcoat their biggest weakness (in a job interview). This approach is not generally effective because potential employers can usually see through the lines.

LegalJob suggests the following alternative approach for dealing with one of your cons:

  • Identify it upfront.
  • Do not wait for the interviewer to ask you a question about your low law school grade(s), lack of experience, irrelevant undergraduate degree or other weakness
  • Start with something positive and be sure to be responsive to the first question or two and then address your weakness (even if not directly responsive to issue being discussed)
  • If possible, balance your weakness with a positive that a legal employer would care about

  • Consider that legal employers are generally looking for a candidate that can:
    • Read like a lawyer (translation:  demonstrate your laser-like focus by identifying the most relevant issues in a short period of time)
    • Write like a lawyer (translation: articulate difficult concepts succinctly in a user friendly manner)
    • Think like a lawyer (translation: start with thorough understanding the facts, consider the baby case before applying your facts to the law, keep reading such that you understand the general rule and exceptions and what policy makers and the experts have said about the statute(s) that is potentially applicable)
    • Understand the business metrics to the practice of law and awareness of how you fit into the model (i.e., rainmaker versus service partner or some combination)
  • Examples of balancing negative with an item employers may care about:
    • You have low grades but you have demonstrated focus and commitment by acing the classes relevant to the area of practice for which you are applying
    • You do not have legal experience in tax but you have an undergraduate degree in accounting which will help you get into the weeds on esoteric tax issues
    • Your summer job involved working in a different area of law but you learned how to write like a lawyer after taking on many projects that required heavy lifting and/or working directly with a hands-on partner who served as a strong mentor
    • You do not have legal experience but you participated in (and won or did very well in) moot court or similar competition which suggests you know how to write
    • You have a background in business/selling (either education or work experience) which will help you appreciate the business/selling aspects to the practice of law

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles.

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