Posts Tagged interviewing

The 10 Biggest Mistakes You can Make While Interviewing at Public Interest Law Career Fairs

by Lauren Burke, Esq.

Lauren Burke is the co-founder of Atlas: DIY, developing immigrant youth, and the immigration attorney at the New York Asian Women’s Center. Lauren is a former Skadden Fellow at The Door, where she worked with Chinese child survivors of human trafficking. Since graduating from NYU Law in 2009, she has worked with over thirty law students in a direct and clinical capacity and loves sharing the advice she learned from tripping (literally!) in dozens of legal interviews.

1.    You Didn’t Do Your Homework

If you can pass civil procedure you can certainly take five minutes to look at an organization’s website and at least learn their mission statement! No excuses, just do it. I’ll quiz you on it, I will!

2.    You Dismiss My Training

Organizations are not particularly interested in training you for an entire summer if the biggest impact you think you will have down the road is “taking on a few pro bono cases” or that you’d like an internship “to get class credit.” We want to see how you are dedicated to the field, or, at least, want to apply our training and work to help others in need.

3.   You Take Me Too Seriously

It’s actually ok to relax in the interview and let your personality show. We’ll be working together late in the night working on an appellate brief and THEN get a call that a client was arrested…again! So we’re looking for people we can click with on a personal and professional level.

4.    …Or You Don’t Take Me Seriously Enough!

Yes, I’m 28 and a female but that doesn’t mean working with me isn’t tough or that I’ll beg for any law student to come crawling my way. You may be older and in many respects wiser but don’t forget who is interviewing whom.

5.    You Fabricate Your Language Skills

Conversational means you know how to say more than “what is your name” and “how old are you.” Proficient articulates that you can get the job done, literally, in the language you use. Don’t think you’ll get off without being tested, I often bring others who speak a language I need to test prospective interns’ chops.

6.    You Patronize the Clients

I’d rather not hear about how all you want to do is “help the poor people” and how having a law degree (or half of one)  makes you superman.  We love what we do but we also recognize why we are here and it’s largely because we love the population. You should want to learn as much, if not more, from the clients as you are able to provide and to recognize that in the interview.

7.    You Take a One-size Fits All Approach to Public Interest

I love an intern with variety but housing foreclosure for the elderly applies a different skill set than youth in foster care. Do issues  and talents overlap? Absolutely! But I want you to be able to speak about and articulate why this particular internship speaks to you.

8.    You Didn’t Ask Me Any Questions

If a law student doesn’t have questions at the end of an interview, I worry about their intellectual curiosity and genuine devotion to the position. Students should come to every interview armed with at least one follow up, “where do you find your client base” works in most situations!

9.    You Confused the Name of My NGO

This maybe goes with number one but, again, do your homework! Sanctuary for Families is different than Safe Horizons, and Advocates for Children is not the Administration for Children’s Services. Print out a page of each NGO you are interviewing with and highlight key items, review this sheet before each interview and you should be good to go!

10.    You Didn’t Show Up

Interviews at these fairs are lightning fast and you’ve got to make an impression (and not the kind where the interviewer is left sitting at a table alone staring into space.) Even if you have a job offer that you would like to take, contact the employer in advance of your interview so that they have a chance to talk to someone else. You never know who you’ll want to interview with in the future and trust us, we talk!

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Landing the Job: Steer Clear of Hiring Managers’ Pet Peeves

by Kristen Pavón

Hi everyone — I hope you’ve all been enjoying the holidays with lots of friends and family, and are getting ready to take on the new year!

Today, I’m bringing you some tried and true pointers for the job search. In addition to suggesting words to avoids on your resume, Career Builder’s Jobology guide includes 5 annoying actions to steer clear of during the interview process!

1. Arriving too early.

2. Acting desperate.

3. Following up aggressively.

4. Badmouthing anyone.

5. Lacking direction. (Yes, you should be flexible in “this economy,” but always tailor application materials to the job you’ve applied for and be prepared to talk about how the job will further your professional goals.)

I have a few additional suggestions:

  • Maintain eye contact with interviewers.
  • Ask questions!
  • Double- and triple-check that you’ve turned your phone off.

Anything else?

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Interviewing Clients: Tips for Law Students & Legal Services Professionals

by Kristen Pavón

If you are a staff attorney/law clerk/intern for a legal services organization or public interest law firm, you know that interviewing clients is an important part of what you do. It’s a critical skill that can always use honing.

I came across a great interviewing tip sheet focused on interviewing low-income clients in my inbox and thought it could be helpful for you!

Here are a few of the highlights:

1. Be Prepared

Have copies of all forms your client may need to fill out or take home with them. Find out ahead of time whether they anticipate coming to the office with anyone and make adjustments (ex. kids, relatives). If there are special parking arrangements, make sure you let the client know.

2. Introductions

Start with small talk. This may be the first time your client is in a law office and a) may be nervous and b) may not know what’s going to happen next. Also, depending on your practice area, the client’s issues may be emotionally trying for them — so ease them into it.

3. Lay out the Agenda

First, explain your role in his or her case (direct representation, no relationship just yet, intern, etc.). Next, give the client a roadmap of how the meeting will go so they know what to expect — you’ll ask them to tell you why he or she came in, explain that you’ll occasionally jot down notes, you’ll interrupt him or her with more specific questions, etc. Also, talk about confidentiality.

4. Start with open-ended questions.

This allows you to get a lot of information right at the beginning and you can choose what issues to focus on next.

5. Listen!

Actively listen. Give the clients nonverbal and verbal cues that you’re listening and you understand what they’re saying.

6. Follow-up.

Make sure you clarify any lingering issues. You want a full picture of what’s going on.

7. Summarize.

Before you let the client go, summarize the information they’ve given you to make sure you’ve gotten the whole story.

8. Is there anything else?

Ask this question. Always. You never know.

9. Future Communication

Talk to the client about how you will communicate with them — email, phone, work phone, etc. Also, set up your next date, time and place for next contact.

For more helpful tips about interviewing, check out this great slideshow from the Legal Aid Association of California.

What are your tried-and-true interviewing tips?

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