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Lawyers - NQ interview

(17 Posts)
BigPawsBrown Tue 08-Apr-14 11:33:41

I have an external NQ interview tomorrow and I am freaking out. I haven't interview for years and when I interviewed for my training contract I wasn't asked anything legal.

Will it be a technical legal interview? Do I need to show huge commitment to and research into the firm like for TCs or will they know I am interviewing speculatively? What if they ask about being retained by my current firm?

Nyborg Tue 08-Apr-14 11:35:37

I'd expect at least some technical questions, in addition to some other competency-based questions. What sort of NQ role is it? (High st, big regional, magic circle?) Which practice area? There are some dead-cert technical Qs for an in house commercial role, for example.

BigPawsBrown Tue 08-Apr-14 12:38:23

Big regional, commercial property

YoungGirlGrowingOld Tue 08-Apr-14 12:45:21

Yes I would expect some technical questions and if I was interviewing you, I would expect you to know the basics about the firm and particularly about the team you will be joining. I would also arrive prepared to discuss the commercial property markets, trends, major players. Looks good to know a few of their clients too (and to ask about others). Never does any harm to demonstrate your knowledge of financial management either - a few well chosen comments about utlisation and leverage never go amiss with partners!! grin

FWIW firms are hiring more cautiously since the GFC. All of our recent recruits have had to complete an assessment paper to test their technical knowledge. Obviously they are unlikely to spring this on you without warning but don't be surprised if that comes next.


Mandy21 Tue 08-Apr-14 19:20:45

I disagree, I think technical expertise is a given (or should be), when I've sat in on interviews its about assessing personality, commitment to law and willingness / ability to get involved in BD. Its about knowing you will fit in with the team (so questions like why you're looking to move, why this new firm will be a better fit, which parts of the job you like / dislike, what you find most challenging, what you do to meet client expectations, how you deal with an aggressive opponent / difficult client). Be prepared to talk about the market, what you could do on the BD front etc. Good luck.

BigPawsBrown Tue 08-Apr-14 22:43:06

Interesting, thanks! I have prepared some technical questions and some more personality-type ones.

BigPawsBrown Thu 10-Apr-14 10:43:50

It was brutal. They made me do SDLT calculations!!

JuanFernandezTitTyrant Thu 10-Apr-14 10:45:12

Bloody hell! Fingers crossed for you.

Nyborg Thu 10-Apr-14 20:48:58

Oof! Fingers crossed for you.

Mandy21, I've worked with some (senior) lawyers whose technical knowledge was sadly lacking, so would never make a hire without at least checking they knew the basics. I interviewed someone for an in-house commercial role recently who couldn't tell me the difference between a warranty and an indemnity. My team has too much work to do to carry someone who doesn't know their stuff - the challenge in the role I was recruiting for ought to be in finding commercial/practical solutions and moving the business forward rather than in mastering the legal concepts.

Mandy21 Thu 10-Apr-14 23:38:24

Crikey, maybe I've just been fortunate (or naive) to only have worked / interviewed with people who know the law inside out and the issue has been how they apply that knowledge / work with the team & clients. Can't imagine anyone could get to a senior position in my firm (or any other firm for that matter) without knowing the law shock

BigPawsBrown Fri 11-Apr-14 00:08:01

Haven't heard yet. They only asked two legal questions but I got them both wrong! One began with, "ever dealt with way leaves?" Me (in my 6 month seat): "no..." Then a ridiculously complicated question about way leave agreements hmmshock

blueshoes Fri 11-Apr-14 00:10:20

I would expect an NQ to know the law (as in the sort of law that law school teaches you). The sort of law a senior lawyer knows will be much more related to their specialists fields.

For example, I am not sure if the senior partners at the global/magic circle law firms would be able to satisfactorily explain the legal difference between an indemnity and a warranty. However, they would be ace capital markets and corporate transactional lawyers who can tell you what the takeover code or listing rules say or negotiate the terms of a subscription agreement or sale-and-purchase agreement. If they needed to know the difference between a warranty and an indemnity, they would ask a litigator or get a trainee/NQ to research. A general commercial lawyer may very well need to know the difference, but it depends on which area of law you are in.

I am an in-house lawyer (ethics, risk & compliance) but have never come across that question because I do not review contracts or manage litigation. I know who to ask though if it came up.

BigPawsBrown Fri 11-Apr-14 00:14:14

Yes, I could've answered basic commercial property questions but this was specialist though perhaps it should've applied basic principles better (? Not sure though; the answer was weird). I just said I didn't know but I would be able to find out for a client confused

blueshoes Fri 11-Apr-14 00:17:05

BigPaws, as an NQ, I would not expect the law firm to be hiring you for your technical expertise whereas "way leaves" sounds very property-related and seems a bit unfair for them to quiz you on it if you have not practised property law for any significant period.

It sounds like a poorly designed test. If you said 'no', they should have come up with a more suitable second question that was more general and allowed you to show your reasoning skills.

BigPawsBrown Fri 11-Apr-14 00:20:51

Maybe it was a performance under pressure thing.

I'm still waiting to hear, anyway.

blueshoes Fri 11-Apr-14 00:42:00

Wishing you luck. I cannot imagine many NQs doing all that well in that test.

Mandy21 Fri 11-Apr-14 00:44:48

Hope its good news OP smile

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