Mentor in Law: Volume 40 | February 2022 | Interviewing Tips
VOLUME 40 | FEBRUARY 1, 2022
Topic: Interviewing Tips
Contributor: Ellen Wong
INTERVIEWING TIPS FOR LAW STUDENTS AND LAWYERS
I've been interviewing 1L students for our summer associate positions recently and I wanted to share a few interviewing tips that will help you in any interview:
🔵 Consider setting up a practice session with your friends, family, or mentors so you're comfortable answering questions about yourself. Ask for their feedback.
🔵 Check your technology and double-check which video chat platform it is (e.g., Zoom, Teams, Webex, etc.)
🔵 First impressions matter. Your interview starts even before you walk in the door/enter the Zoom room. Don’t let the little, cosmetic things such as attire or body language sink your ship before you even open your mouth. How you show up and present yourself matters.
🔵 Storytelling works. Don’t regurgitate facts that are on your resume. Use the power of storytelling to convey the essence of who you are and what’s important to you. It’s easier to be enthusiastic when you’re telling a story versus just restating facts. Personal stories are how you can set yourself apart. [Check out Jonathan Shapiro's (former federal prosecutor turned Hollywood executive) webinar on storytelling for lawyers.]
🔵 Do your research on your interviewers!
🔵 End with impact. Thank them for their time and reiterate your enthusiasm for the firm/company. Do this in a thank you email afterwards, too.
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Meet Ellen Wong
In Ellen's words: "I am a former engineer/IP litigator/patent attorney who recently became a product attorney and am always looking for opportunities to grow. I am a mom (1 boy, 1 dog) and wife, and am passionate about diversity and inclusion, as well as the power of mentorship."
- Were you a first-generation law student?
Yes, I am the first and only one (so far).
- What is your current role and practice area?
I recently became a product attorney supporting Microsoft’s Web Experiences, including Microsoft Edge and Bing.
- Since hindsight is 20/20, what is one thing you would have done differently in law school?
I wish I had explored a greater variety of classes in different practice areas. Law school is a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse into other areas of law that you find interesting but are not intending to pursue as a career. Some of my favorite classes ended up being the ones that had nothing to do with preparing for the bar exam or my former IP practice!
- What advice would you give new lawyers entering the profession?
Every person in a legal practice is important for the success of the entire team. I have seen young associates dismiss legal assistants and paralegals as being beneath them, without realizing that those persons tend to be some of the best resources for resident knowledge or solution brainstorming.
- What new mandatory class would you add to legal education?
It would be helpful to have had a class on managing professional relationships and client counseling. Topics could include how to: 1) be a trusted advisor/go-to person; 2) communicate and proactively anticipate impactful contributions; and 3) create effective sponsorship and mentorship relationships.
- What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Be a good listener but also be confident in what you know! It is easy to fall victim to imposter syndrome but trust that you know your stuff and that you were hired into your position for a reason!
- What is one myth you’d bust about being a lawyer?
Myth: That lawyers need to be mean, aggressive, and/or confrontational to be strong advocates for their clients. I strongly believe you can practice law well without having to be the loudest voice in the room or by picking a fight.
- What is one way we can improve D&I in the legal profession?
D&I in the legal field is an ongoing complex challenge, but I believe that people need to be able to ask questions and have hard conversations for there to be improvement. It important to encourage judgment-free opportunities for open discussions so that people can get feedback and also understand how to be empathetic and allies to others.
- What is one prediction that you would make about the future of law?
I don’t have any particular predictions but I do hope that there will be movement away from the billable hour and the “prestige” associated with who worked the most.
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