All About Law School Interviews

Many law schools now incorporate some kind of interview process. Here’s what to know and do to prepare.

Know what kind of interviews your law schools offer

  • Research your law schools’ websites to see whether and what kind of interview is offered. We posted a list of known interview types by school over on our Compass page.
  • By invitation only–some law schools like University of Chicago choose to interview applicants by invitation only.
  • Open interviews–Other law schools like Northwestern offer interview slots to all applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. (To schedule an interview visit their interview calendar here. Hurry, because they will fill fast.)
  • Group interviews–Some schools like Georgetown will offer group interviews in selected cities; at this time Georgetown’s interview is also by invitation only.

Preparing for the interview

  • Do your research. You should expect them to ask you “why this law school?” and they will want to hear specific answers. Take a careful look at the school’s website, employment data, and any marketing materials like pamphlets.
    • Do be prepared with specific bullet points about the school that interest you: A particular journal, clinic, externship, or certificate program is a good example.
    • Don’t say general things like “you have a national reputation” or “you’re the best ranked school I can get into.” They want to see that your interest goes beyond their ranking.
  • Carefully review your resume and be prepared to discuss anything on it. Many schools will also ask something like “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?,” so be prepared to discuss your career interests.
  • Practice. Sign up for a mock interview with Career Services, or have a lawyer/professor/trusted person sit down with you and ask you questions. Think carefully about what you want to say, and how you can best convey it.

At the interview

  • Make eye contact, introduce yourself, and shake hands. (You would be surprised how many people skip this. Seriously.)
  • DO NOT BE LATE under any circumstances. The biggest sign of disrespect to lawyers is wasting their time. Allow yourself plenty of time for parking/traffic/restroom. If you absolutely cannot avoid being late, call the office to let them know.
  • Dress up. This is not a business-casual situation; business formal is best.
  • Engage in small talk. How’s the weather, what a lovely office/view, how is your semester going, etc., is not only socially necessary but also gives the interviewer an idea of how good you are at making people feel comfortable talking with you–a critical skill to be a successful lawyer. This might even be part of the interview itself.
  • Bring questions for the interviewer.  Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. Use the opportunity. Some examples might include:
    • What are the most important qualities in a Law School X student?
    • How would you describe the student body/atmosphere here?
    • What challenges do you see current law students facing?
    • What’s the best advice you have for an aspiring law student?
  • Thank the interviewer for their time. Reiterate your interest.

After the interview

  • Follow up with an email thanking the interviewer for their time.
  • Include something specific that you learned or enjoyed about the interview. Examples:
    • Thank you for your advice about _______________; I found that very insightful.
    • It was reassuring to hear your thoughts on the atmosphere at this school.
    • I appreciate your honesty in addressing the challenges faced by current students.
  • Take the opportunity–again–to reiterate your interest in the school.

Mark Your Calendars: Week of October 2

Pre-Law Events

Applying to Law School Workshop–Monday, Oct. 16 at 4:00 in 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building. Designed for students who are currently in the application process, this workshop will provide an in-depth overview, including: Using the Credential Assembly Service, understanding each element of the application, making a timeline for perfecting the application, researching law schools, and creating a strategy for maximizing admissions and aid through the application process. Participants will leave with a detailed application plan, along with tips and suggestions on best application practices. The last 15 minutes will be set aside for Q&A so that individual questions can be addressed.

College of Law Events–Pre-Law students are invited to attend!

Fourth District Appellate Court Oral Arguments–Tuesday, Oct. 10, 10:30-12:30 in the Max L. Rowe Auditorium in the College of Law (504 E Pennsylvania Ave). This is your opportunity to see our Appellate Court in action as they hold oral arguments on two cases: 4-15-0650 People v. Christina Atkins, at 10:30 a.m. and 4-17-0028 Ivancicts v. Griffith, at 11:30 a.m.

The State of Civil Rights Today & The Modern Day Resistance Movement–Thursday, Oct. 17 at 12:00 pm in the Max L. Rowe Auditorium at the College of Law (504 E Pennsylvania Ave). The University of Illinois College of Law presents the 2017 Paul M. Van Arsdell, Jr. Memorial Lecture on Litigation and the Legal Profession, featuring Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided to lecture attendees. Description: Civil rights are under grave attack at the federal, state and local levels. Fragile gains have been lost as a new Administration works to roll back progress. In this lecture, Clarke will provide an overview of some of the unprecedented challenges faced by minority communities and discuss efforts being made to safeguard civil rights in this new environment. The centrality of the courts as a vehicle for protecting rights will be discussed.

Other Campus Events

Embodying Your Authentic Self: Your Key to Success, Monday, Oct. 2 at 12:00 pm at the Women’s Resources Center, 616 E Green St, Suite 202. Join us for a presentation by LaTonya Wilkins, “Embodying Your Authentic Self: Your Key to Success”, presented as a part of the Your Story Matters series. Lunch will be provided.

We’ll see you at the Majors & Minors Fair! Come out to explore majors (or a secondary major), minors, and more–including Pre-Law Advising–on Wednesday, Oct. 4 from 2-4 in Illini Union Rooms A,B,C. 

The Technology and Entrepreneur Center Information Session–Oct. 4 at 4:00 pm in Room 106B1 Engineering Hall to promote certificate programs and their new Innovation, Leadership, & Engineering Entrepreneurship, or ILEE dual degree (offered to Engineering Majors). The Technology and Entrepreneur Center or TEC is a great place for students across campus to gain additional knowledge and expertise to add to their current major. Students do not have to be in an Engineering major to participate in our courses or certificate programs. Students that are innovative, creative, problem solvers, entrepreneurial, collaborative, or passionate about making an impact on the world will find a host of opportunities in TEC. TEC is a great place to begin to team up or collaborate with students, and people from various parts of campus and the community.  Check out the TEC website, and attend one of the three info sessions listed on the attached flyer.

Save the date for the Illini Career & Internship Fair on Thursday, October 19 from 12:00 noon-4pm in Illini Union A,B,C Rooms! Log into Handshake and click this link for more details.