I've heard people begin interviewing today. I recall one of the hardest things in an interview was responding to the inevitable: so do you have any questions about the firm? By the end of OCIP (i.e., 30 interviews later), I feel like I had some pretty good questions. Here are some:
Question: Can you describe a typical day or week in your practice?
Rationale: Forces attorney interview back to talking about themselves (often good; it's hard to blow an interview while you're the listening party). Also gives you an impression of hours and responsibilities without bluntly asking "What are your hours?" and "What do they let you do?"
Question: What practice areas does your office excel in?
Rationale: This question is for big firms only, and is meant ot be used where their website indicates dozens of practice areas, but you aren't sure which practice areas exist in the office you are interviewing for.
Question: What is your favorite thing about working at _____ / working in [field]?
Rationale: People like to talk about their favorite things. This also helps you understand what attorneys in that office are passionate about. I think being a happy lawyer requires sharing some of those passions with your associates.
Question: How many attorneys are working on each project you are currently assigned to?
Rationale: Will you be a cog or a leader? You may not want to work on a team of 30 attorneys. Or, perhaps you do not want the responsibility of working with a partner alone. This question can help you get a feel for how the firm staffs cases, and indirectly, what attorneys do on them. Hint: on a 30 person team, the first-year associate is not writing the motion for summary judgment.
Question: How's business?
Rationale: Ok, this needs to be less blunt. But for firms with recent mergers, or firms that were overly leveraged on credit markets work, this is something I would want to know. If you're interviewing for NY transactional - does the firm have any work right now? It's not fun to get paid to stay home during the summer (which happened c. 2001-02). I think another fair way of putting it is: what is the firm's business strategy? Where do they see the organization in 5, 10 years (revenge for asking you that)? I remember being blown away when Kirkland SF told me: "In three years, we're tripling the size of this office to 150." My jaw dropped. & i was impressed - that takes ambition.
If I remember some more, I'll update the post. I hope you find this helpful, and best of luck in finding a place where you will have a happy career as an attorney. My best tip I save for last: show enthusiasm for practicing law
. Firms don't want to pay your loans and watch you leave.