Get Hired After your Law Clerk Program: 4 Traits Lawyers Look for When Interviewing Law Clerks
Jan 11, 2017
A recent law clerk grad interviews with department heads and an HR manager
You’ve worked hard to complete your law clerk training and are getting ready to graduate. You’re beginning to give serious thought to the job interviewing process: your cover letters, resume, appropriate attire, possible questions and answers.
Getting your foot in the door at a law firm, legal department, or government office is the final test for law clerk students—one which demands careful preparation, and some well thought-out strategies.
To give our upcoming grads a helping hand, we scoured advice from lawyers, department hiring managers, and industry experts to determine which law clerk traits are looked for most during interviews.
These are the skills you’ll want to highlight when crafting your cover letter and resume, and emphasize during your interviews.
1. You are Service-Oriented & Know the Client Always Comes First
What does it mean to be service-oriented? For law clerks, it means responding swiftly to client emails and phone messages—even if you don’t have an answer yet and are still waiting to hear back from the lawyer responsible for the case.
Potential employers want to see that you are caring and empathetic. They are looking for law clerks who understand effective “client management”, which means taking the time to reassure anxious clients and letting them know an answer is on the way. During interviews, it will be important to clarify that you understand the human relations side of the law clerk role—and that the client must always come first.
2. You Express Yourself Clearly & Listen Carefully
During your law clerk interview, close attention will be paid to your communication skills. Once hired, you will become part of an ecosystem of paralegals, lawyers, judicial personnel, vendors, clients, and other staff members. While some of your work will be done independently, you’ll spend a significant amount of time corresponding with these individuals by phone, email, and in person.
The person interviewing you will assess your ability to answer questions articulately, think on your feet, and project professionalism. The hiring manager must be convinced that you will represent the firm or department well, and be an effective administrative coordinator.
Listening carefully to interview questions, maintaining eye-contact, and responding thoughtfully will help communicate good judgement and trustworthiness.
3. You are Proficient in Relevant Legal Office Technology
On your resume and during your interview, it is important to highlight your familiarity with the software and computer programs law clerks must use to carry out administrative duties.
These are the technologies you were introduced to, and practised using, during your law clerk program, such as:
- Quicklaw and eCarswell Lawsource for online legal research
- Word processing (tables, templates, styles, importing and exporting data, and mail merge)
- Microsoft Excel
- PC Law (computerized accounting for timekeeping and billing)
You’ll also want to emphasize your willingness to continue learning new technologies for legal office management, as updates and new applications become available. This shows you are adaptable, forward-thinking, and proactive.
4. You Demonstrate Attention to Detail & Strong Organizational Skills
Projecting this trait during interviews is absolutely crucial for prospective law clerks. A significant part of your job is helping lawyers with research and legal administrative tasks, which may include:
- drafting and proof-reading documents (such as pleadings, briefs, discovery and transactional documents)
- scheduling meetings and keeping track of important deadlines
- maintaining paper and electronic files
- managing projects
- drafting routine correspondence and memos
If asked about your strengths, or skills you believe are most important to your role, it would be wise to emphasize organization, accuracy, and attention to detail. Of course, ensuring your application, resume, and cover letter are well-written and error-free is an important step in the right direction! Ask someone you trust to proofread these documents before submitting them.
Depending on the specific workplace environment and corporate culture, hiring managers may have a few additional traits to add to this list. But law clerk students can rest assured that these four skills are considered enormous assets by the majority of department managers and lawyers. Show you value and embody these traits, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful legal career!
Haven’t started training yet, and looking for a reputable law clerk program in Ottawa?
Take a look at Herzing College’s Law Clerk diploma program, delivered at our Ottawa campus. Training takes just 12 months to complete, and includes a 4-week internship for crucial on-the-job experience.
Visit the program page for complete list of law clerk courses, career options, or to chat live with an academic advisor. We’ll help you get started!
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