Behavioral Interviewing

While most questions legal employers ask during on-campus interviews and in callbacks are aimed at gauging the candidate’s “fit” with the culture of the firm, recruiters have been trying to get their attorney-interviewers to ask more “behavioral” types of questions.

We thought we’d share a link to an article written by a career services colleague with some background on behavioral interviewing as well as a list of behvioral types of questions aimed at identifying whether candidates possess some of the core competencies legal employers look for. 

The questions were developed in connection with a presentation made at the 2013 NALP Annual Education Conference by Adrienne Allison, Public Interest Career Counselor, University of North Carolina School of Law, Amee McKim, Director of Legal Recruitment, Duane Morris LLP, and Rachel Peckerman, Associate Director, Public Interest Law Center, NYU School of Law.

EIW/FIP Attire (Bumped)

Occasionally, we’re asked about appropriate on-campus interview attire.  We think our colleagues at the Yale Law School offer some good advice, which we’ve excerpted below.  Keep in mind that dressing appropriately is art, not science.  You should look at these simply as guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules.

Your attire should contribute to your professionalism.  Although employers may have different dress codes, err on the conservative side when interviewing.


  • Skirt suits are still considered the most conservative, although women wear pants suits as well.
  • Black, navy and gray are the most conservative colors, but tans and other subtle shades are also acceptable.  Solids are preferable to patterns.
  • The skirt should be no more than two inches above the knee.
  • Wear a white or cream blouse (sometimes called a “shell”) with either short or long sleeves. Tank tops and camisoles are too casual. The blouse should either have a collar or a round neck. Avoid low-cut shirts.
  • Wear a white or cream blouse (sometimes called a “shell”) with either short or long sleeves. Tank tops and camisoles are too casual. The blouse should either have a collar or a round neck. Avoid low-cut shirts.


First Quarter Results Show Demand For Private Sector Legal Services Remains Flat

Demand for large law firm legal services was largely flat for the first quarter of 2013, according to a recently released report by Thomson Reuters.  Its quarterly Peer Monitor Index Report contains information about key law firm business metrics.    

We’ve regularly blogged about the Peer Monitor system before, but to refresh you , it is a service that allows law firms to access their peers’ financial data (in the aggregate) in exchange for supplying their own data to the system for others to access (on a normalized and aggregated basis).  Data from Am Law 100 firms, Am Law 200 firms, and mid-sized firms are included in the system. You can find more information about the Peer Monitor system here.

Litigation was down by 3.7%.   IP litigation was off by a greater amount — 6.8%.   The demand for Labor and employment services fell 0.4%.   Corporate work was down 4.4%.  Real estate was off 1.8%.  Tax work fell 5.9% and bankruptcy dropped 9%.
Attorney headcount grew 1.3% in the first quarter and the attorney replenishment ratio was 1.3.   This suggests that firms are adding new attorneys, but at a very slow rate (slower, in fact, than it had been over much of the last two years.
Firm prospects will improve as the economy improves, but no one is predicting anything other than continued modest economic growth.   

On the Art of Networking

Couple of interesting nuggests in this posting on the Lawyerist entitled “The Secrets of Mingling At Legal Events.”

For Many CA Firms, 2012 Turned Out Better Than Expected Financially

A recent article in the Recorder, SF’s legal newspaper, reports on CA firm financials for 2012.  While revenue gains were modest, many firms noticeably increased their profits.  The article attributes the increase partly to expense cutting, but mainly to reduced headcount, particularly among firm partnership ranks.  The increases experienced by firms whose biggest offices are in Silicon Valley were the result of increased demand for their tech expertise, rather than trimming ranks.  In fact, some Silicon Valley firms actually increased headcount.   

There are several interesting insights into big law firm business operations that will be useful to those of you heading to large firms (or considering interviewing with them in the fall).

Looking Back: Law Firms Experienced Only Modest Growth in 2012; Looking Ahead: More of the Same

Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor — in conjunction with Georgetown University Law Center’s Center on the Study of the Legal Profession — recently issued its annual report on the legal market, which you can find here.    Some highlights of 2012:

  • growth in demand for legal services up by a mere .5%
  • the number of lawyers increased by 2% (which put growth in productivity, i.e., number of hours a firm bills divided by number of lawyers, in negative territory) 
  • profits per partner grew modestly at 3.58% (partners at non-AmLaw 100 firms fared better than those from AmLaw 100)
  • it was a banner year for global expansion of U.S. and international law firms (96 cross border law firm mergers took place)

The report analyzes some of the longer term trends behind these numbers.  It’s a must-read.

As for 2013, the authors of the report predict “that most firms will continue to struggle to maintain profitability as the combined effects of slow demand growth, declining realization rates, and persistent overcapacity will continue to eat into profit margins. We do expect to see some growth in revenues and continued rigorous efforts to manage expenses, but overall we anticipate that there will be only modest growth in profits per equity partner in the current year – probably in the low single digit range.”

Geographic Regions With Fastest Growing Professional, Scientific and Technical Services Sectors

Urban Studies expert Joel Kotkin discusses a list of the metropolitan areas with the fastest growth rates for high-wage sectors in : The Cities Winning The Battle For The Fastest Growing High-Wage Sector In The U.S.  He notes Chicago’s absence from the top 10 as well as “the big metropolitan areas of the Northeast and California that have traditionally dominated high-end business services. The only exception is the third-ranked San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metropolitan statistical area. . . . Yet the other leaders on our list are generally smaller, growing metro areas whose expansions have been propelled by a rapid increase in employment in technology and professional management services. These include our top-ranked metro area, Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas, which enjoyed over 46% growth in employment in professional services since 2001; fourth-place Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and No. 5 Salt Lake City, Utah. These areas have enjoyed strong net-in migration of educated workers, and have poached companies from more expensive regions. More surprising still has been the rapid ascent of such unheralded regions as second-place Jacksonville, Fla., and Oklahoma City (sixth place).”

3rd Quarter 2012 Update on the Large Law Firm Market

Those of you who follow our blog, know that we regularly share with you the results of law business consultant Hildebrandt’s quarterly reports on the state of the large law firm market.  Their report for the third quarter of 2012 (ending September 30th) is now out.

Like the last report (for Q 2), it’s not positive.

Key findings:

  • overall demand for legal services dropped by 0.8%
  • demand was down in every practice area with the exception of labor and employment, which was up by 2.5%
  • IP litigation, which was a practice area that had performed relatively strongly in the recent past, was down by 3.6% in Q3.
  • mid-sized firms performed relatively better than the largest firms
  • demand in NY was up 4%, but down in LA, Silicon Valley, DC, and Chicago  
  • attorney headcount continued to grow, but the growth rate slowed
  • the attorney replenishment ratio remained at 1.3 (about where it’s been for the rest of 2012)
  • productivity (the measure of the ratio between capacity and demand) fell 2.5% (the third consecutive quarterly decline)   

 Bottom line is that Hildebrandt finds no reason to alter the prediction contained in its Q2 report that the large firm legal market will continue its “sluggish, largely flat trajectory” [Hildebrandt’s language] for the foreseeable future.

Must Read: NY Times On the Future of “Big Law”

Tuesday’s Dealbook section of the NY Times is devoted to the legal industry (primarily large law firms, or “Big Law”) and its future.

Check it out here.

To Future Lawyers: “Invest Time Understanding the Intersection Between Law And Technology”

Prof. Bill Henderson from Indiana University Law School wrote an interesting article for the most recent issue of the National Jurist.  He is an expert on the legal industry and writes often about fundamental changes the industry is experiencing and will likely face in the future.

Read the whole thing here

His conclusion:     “Invest time understanding the intersection between law and technology. Read [author and legal futurist Richard] Susskind’s books.  Subscribe (via email or RSS feeds) to the many publications in the network, including the Law Technology News, and the ABA Daily Journal (most content is free).  Some terrific blog include Law21, Strategic Legal Technology, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, or The Legal Whiteboard (my own blog).  Identify some of the new, innovative companies and ask for informational interviews—don’t be shy.  These companies will be flattered.  And remember the advice followed by countless successful people: ‘luck is when opportunity meets preparation.'”