Skip to Main Content
by Sidley Austin LLP | August 02, 2023


Any interview can be stressful, but now in a mostly virtual environment, it is especially important to approach interviews with a positive attitude and to be prepared for anything! After putting together detailed and compelling answers about your background and experience, it’s time for you to ask the questions. Your questions should show that you are prepared, interested, and thoughtful. Most important, this is a chance for you to be in the driver’s seat—to learn more about what makes each firm unique and gather the information you need to make a well-informed decision at the culmination of the recruitment process.

When preparing the questions you would like to ask, focus on the aspects of law firm life that are most important to you. Are you interested in a small or large firm? A firm with a top-tier training program? Are pro bono opportunities for junior associates a top priority? As you conduct your pre-interview firm research, make notes on specific topics you would like to address. Below are questions that we think will work particularly well in any interview to help you determine where you should spend your summer.

What is your typical day like?

Understanding what day-to-day life is like at each firm is essential to finding the right fit as you begin your legal career. The answer to this question may provide insight into the type of work you will be doing, the amount of contact you will have with clients, and the expectations partners have for junior associates at the firm.

What type of training can I expect as a junior associate?

Becoming a successful lawyer and building a rewarding career means developing excellent legal skills. A firm that is invested in its associates’ development will likely offer support through training opportunities. Hearing your interviewers provide specific programming examples and learning how the firm supports associates early in their careers should lead to key considerations when making your final decision.

What about working at this law firm makes you most proud?

This question can uncover unexpected insight into the firm’s culture. It provides your interviewer with an opportunity to share what they think makes their firm special and may elicit answers that touch on the relationships they value most, the positions they hold on committees, or particular matters they find most rewarding. Collaboration is a term that is often used in this context, so ask the interviewer for specific examples and see if their answers align with what collaboration means to you.

What characteristics do successful associates at your firm possess?

This is another way to assess whether the firm is the right fit for your personality and career goals. At this initial stage of your career, you have the opportunity to learn a great deal about yourself and the career elements that are most important in helping you become a successful lawyer. You may be looking for a firm that values independent and ambitious junior lawyers, or you may prefer a firm that emphasizes a team-based approach to work.

What is the firm’s commitment to pro bono work, and what type of pro bono matters have you worked on?

As a lawyer, pro bono matters provide opportunities for associates to help members of the community in which they live and work. Pro bono representation can present associates with unique opportunities for client interaction and skill development. Ask for specific details about how pro bono work has benefited your interviewer’s development. If meaningful pro bono work is important to you, asking this question will help you discern which firms really demonstrate their dedication and commitment to this kind of case.

How are associates provided feedback on their performance, and can you tell me about the review process?

Feedback is an important aspect of your growth as a lawyer. It’s important that you understand the evaluation process at each firm because each firm approaches things differently. Understanding who evaluates associates and when you will receive feedback throughout the year allows you to familiarize yourself with the process and set expectations for your progress and development.

How has the firm adapted to the remote/hybrid environment while ensuring its commitment to lawyers, clients, and staff?

This is uncharted territory, and gaining an understanding of how the firm adapted to serve the needs of its office, lawyers, staff, and clients over the past few years can give you a sense of the firm’s commitment to supporting its people as well as how the firm is looking ahead as we navigate the changing landscape of law firms. The answer to this question can help you understand how the firm looks to the future and prioritizes its business model to help run its business and serve its clients efficiently.

We hope these questions offer insight into how best to prepare for the upcoming recruiting season. Making a final decision on where you will spend your summer can be daunting, but taking steps to keep you focused and organized will help make your process smoother. We encourage you to prepare, do thorough research, be yourself, and take every opportunity you can to learn about the process and yourself. We wish you success in all your interviews as you navigate this recruiting season!


Check out Sidley's Vault Profile for more, including essential information, insider perspectives and rankings.