LegalJob was recently asked a recurring question so it makes sense to post it here.
Q: Thank you for doing this blog, I find it very helpful. If I only have a short amount of time for with a prospective employer, what is the most important item to get across?
Answer: From your question it is not clear whether this meeting is an informational interview or a real interview. The substance of the answer does not matter because both are “real” interviews but the style does. For an informational interview, it is probably best not to focus your response on that firm because then you have hijacked the interviewer who agreed to meet with you on the basis that you would ask about other firms.
Overall, you want to convince the interviewer that you can add value (using specific examples; get in the weeds) to the firm and the practice because of your specific background and experience. One way to do that is to start by explaining why you are specifically interested in the firm. For tax nerds, perhaps it is the firm’s particular focus on S corporation issues, and you are interested because you have specific experience in the area that you could contribute to the firm.
Along these lines, consider the following comment from an associate dean of a prestigious law school made at NALP’s recently held roundtable discussion in Washington, DC on the future of lawyer hiring, development and advancement.
Employers are expecting…that candidates will be able to articulate very specific reasons for being interested in a particular employer. You know, having very employer-specific reasons for wanting to work for a particular organization. I think we have seen that…employers are recruiting for particular positions as opposed to the best available athlete. Or at least expecting the candidates to be able to articulate, in a very focused way, a particular practice area or practice areas in which they are interested…