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View Full Version : Law School Interview THIS WEEK! Any advice?



todaysspecial
Mar. 18, 2012, 07:37 PM
I'm a mature student, just over 30 with 3 kids. I have an interview this week at a very competitive law school, for which I am hugely grateful. I was given a heads up as to what they will ask:

Why law?
Why that particular school?
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They will also be familiar with my Personal Statement and References - luckily I had 5 fabulous academic ones (I'm currently in my third year of a 4 year undergrad degree with great marks - Mature students are permitted to apply without a previous degree, but it's a long shot - that's why I'm so amazed to have the interview!)

The interview is with two professors, and they will likely test my second language abilities as well.

Any tips from anyone that's been down this road? I'm nervous and would hugely appreciate any help!! Most of all, I'm wondering what to say if they ask why I shouldn't have to finish my undergrad first. I do have a great deal of work history, great extra curriculars, etc. My frank reasoning is that I don't have the luxury of taking forever, as my eldest has special needs requiring expensive therapies. Also, good God, I don't want to be in school forever. Any ideas? :)

GotSpots
Mar. 18, 2012, 07:52 PM
Honestly, interviews really don't play a huge part of law school admissions at the more competitive schools. A few of the top schools do "informational" interviews, but the decisions are really made on the candidate's record and test scores.

Thus, I'm inherently a bit wary of a school that does an interview without an undergrad degree. Can you give a bit more information about where this school ranks? And is this a program that would allow you to finish your undergrad concurrently with the law school program?

All of that being said, key issues likely to come up are why do you want to go to law school, what kind of practice do you envision having (big firm, small firm, in house, not for profit, govt, etc.), and perhaps - in a true "interview" interview, a question or two designed to test some analytic skills (though I think this is rare).

BlueEyedSorrel
Mar. 18, 2012, 07:58 PM
I just spent 2 months interviewing for medical residency positions, and heard the exact same questions (why internal medicine? why this hospital? what are your career goals? tell us about your experience with [something on my application]. Any questions for us?) at every single interview. There are only so many interview questions they can ask that really make sense for professional or graduate school. I thought the toughest part was making sure I had good thoughtful questions about the program for every interviewer. It's tough to come up with a good question when it's the 3rd or 4th person you've talked to in the day.

Here is one tip I gleaned from going to my school's "how to interview and not make a fool of yourself" workshop. If you get a question that catches you off guard, do NOT panic. Pause for no more than 2 seconds, look the interviewer in the eye and say some canned phrase and then repeat the question to buy yourself time to think of an answer. Something like "That's an interesting question. If I ever were in situation x and had to bla, bla, bla, I would...." I used this a few times and it works great to refocus yourself and NOT blurt out the first thought that pops into your head. It's kind of like training yourself to sit up and lengthen your leg if your horse spooks, instead of automatically curling forward and clutching the reins.:lol:

The other tip I was told (and maybe it's different for law school, I don't know) is to focus on your interest in the field, not the money you think you'd earn or the work-life balance, even if it's true that those are driving issues. It's a little silly cuz everyone knows that people pick careers based on some personal calculation involving interest and potential monetary rewards vs hours of work required. But basically you want to convince them that you find the career sooooooo fascinating that you'd do it even if you were getting paid nothing and working 24/7. It's just playing the game:yes:

BES

Judysmom
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:38 PM
I'm not sure how an interview for law school would work.

I didn't have to do one, and honestly, I have never heard of a law school granting admission interviews. I'm curious too as to this program- genuinely curious- not snarky.

Your experience may vary, but I've found that, in my experience, no one cares about the back story. Therefore I personally would avoid discussing not wanting to be in school forever (who does? :lol:) and your son. I would talk about why you want to be a lawyer, how your real life experience sets you apart from traditional law students (in a good way), and how you will be such an asset to their program, they should allow you to take advantage of the accelerated program.

Why don't you want to finish you 4 yr degree? I think most (if not all) employers want to see that, even if you have a J.D. Also, there are a lot of unemployed lawyers out there. Just something to think about.

Sorry, not trying to be a Debbie downer- just trying to give good advice :)

todaysspecial
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:55 PM
GotSpots,

The school is ranked 12th internationally.

It is EXTREMELY RARE for anyone to be admitted without a complete undergrad, and three years is the bare minimum. Also, this is only extended to mature students - presumably with the idea that remarkable and highly capable mature students that did not have the chance to take the traditional route to law school, and have solid professional work experience, are worth giving a chance.

The admissions process is a bit different, as they pride themselves on their holistic approach. All mature applicants they are considering for those few precious spots get interviewed.

BES, that's just the kind of advice I'm looking for, thanks! Did you have any trouble handling nerves before the interviews?

todaysspecial
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:59 PM
Judysmom, employment prospects are certainly important. That being said, in comparison to the other 99% of applicants, I'm an old hag! :lol: I'm not going to get many more chances to pursue this.

HelloAgain
Mar. 18, 2012, 10:01 PM
Judysmom, employment prospects are certainly important. That being said, in comparison to the other 99% of applicants, I'm an old hag! :lol: I'm not going to get many more chances to pursue this.

You know this really isn't true, right? At least 10-20% of my law school class was in their 30s. (I was 31 when I started and nowhere close to oldest --there were students in their 50s & 60s). Moreover it is rare -- and usually inadvisable -- to go straight from law school from undergrad. Most US law students have worked a year or two and are around the age of 24-25.

Is this law school in Canada? If so that would explain the interview (I have never heard of an interview for a US law school in any circumstances, myself) and other things. The law school process in the US and Canada is different.

Lord Helpus
Mar. 18, 2012, 10:10 PM
I went to law school at 30. The thing I found harder that the young'uns is that I had another life, and they didn't. NO ONE cares if you have something else to do -- you won't be able to do it, so why even use it as an excuse.

Try to find an area that makes you special. I went to law school to become an equine attorney. That encompasses Contract Law, Tax Law, Litigation, Partnerships and Corporations, for starters.

Sadly there was no such program, so I had to make one up, but my professors really got into it and enjoyed the fact that I was not another student who wanted to be an attorney, but has no idea what they wanted to practice.

So, if you have a specific reason for going to law school, tell them. If you want to represent children with special needs, find out what that means in terms of specific course work, and then present your goals.

You will stand out as someone with a clear view of your goals and the determination to reach them.

BlueEyedSorrel
Mar. 18, 2012, 10:29 PM
BES, that's just the kind of advice I'm looking for, thanks! Did you have any trouble handling nerves before the interviews?

Yes and no. I tend not to show my nerves, so I'm guessing no one realized I was nervous. But really, if you're not a bit nervous, it would mean you wouldn't care. I had 6 interviews total over the course of 2 months. I was the most nervous for programs I was REALLY interested in and really, really wanted to go to.

The way I handled my nerves was lots routine and leaving nothing to chance. Cut out all the variables and figure out exactly what you'll wear, how you'll get to the interview, how much time you need etc. Set out anything you need the night before (coat, briefcase or purse, umbrella, copies of your CV, whatever). I did things that way so I didn't waste precious brain cells wondering what belt I should wear. I always listened to the same music on my ipod while getting ready and driving to the interview, something upbeat with a personal meaning to me.

The next part is a bit nebulous and hard to explain, but really helped me. Maybe you'll find it useful too, or maybe you'll just think I'm weird. Did you ever show horses? You know that feeling you get when you're on deck to do your test or course? Before a class, I used to mentally go to this quiet place where it was just me and my horse, almost "forget" about everything else except the pattern. I don't know what you'd call it.....meditation maybe, except I wasn't saying "ommmmmm.":lol: I did the same thing before interviews to get in the zone, especially if an interviewer was running late and I had to sit around waiting.

Good luck and let us know how it goes on the next OT day!
BES

todaysspecial
Mar. 18, 2012, 10:41 PM
HelloAgain, it IS in Canada! I'm surprised the admissions processes are so different!

LordHelpus, that's a great tip about tailoring things to my area of interest, thank you.

BES, I used to show a heck of a lot, and know the feeling well - I used to call it "show ring zen"! Even as a kid, my Dad would send me off on my own just before the class. That time alone sort of allowed me to center myself, I think. Great idea!

Blugal
Mar. 19, 2012, 01:02 AM
As far as the "not finished undergrad thing" - there were 2 students in my incoming class (that I knew of) who had done 3 years of undergrad only. They were universally considered to be "on the accelerated program", i.e. bright and driven - look out for them young'uns.

I became good friends with one. She got one of the coveted summer jobs at a big NYC firm, which translated into one of the coveted full-time positions there.

Best of luck to you. There were quite a few "mature" students in my classes, they were all great and managed to fit in and we all learned from each other & together.

LegalEagle
Mar. 19, 2012, 10:21 AM
No idea where you plan to practice, but some states will not let you sit for the bar unless you completed your undergrad before beginning law school...just something to think about.

todaysspecial
Mar. 19, 2012, 11:23 AM
Blugal, thank you for your encouraging words. I intend to continue to be very competitive and kick some butt!

LegalEagle - thank you for the heads up, appreciate it. I intend to stay on this side of the border, but will double check the requirements up here.

vxf111
Mar. 19, 2012, 02:34 PM
I didn't have interviews for law school (I don't recall anyone else who did either). But I wanted to say "good luck" and good for you going back. It's never too late to follow your path. I had lots of "mature" students in my law school class and they seemed to get along just as well as those of us who went straight through.