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Opening Lines of a Law Job Interview and Accepting the Offer

published February 14, 2013

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Opening Lines

Adopting your host mentality, approach someone who is standing alone and say: "I don't believe we have met. My name is...’’ (use your 10-15 second introduction).

To get a conversation started you may want to:
  • Share an observation about the situation. Comment on the facility, food, organization, traffic, parking dilemma, etc. Remember, the comment ought to be positive and upbeat. Look for those bridges that have led the two of you to be in the same room.
  • Ask an open-ended question. (Examples: "How long have you been a member of this organization?" "How do you fit into this picture?" "How do you know the bride or groom?") Be careful not to fire off too many questions; you want to engage people in a conversation-not make them feel like they are being interrogated.
  • Reveal something about yourself. Disclosing something about yourself helps to establish vulnerability and approachability. (Example: "I had such a hard time finding this place and I only work 5 blocks away!") Volunteering information about yourself will make the other person feel safe about doing the same. Be careful not to reveal anything too personal which may burden the listener. (Example: "My wife just told me she wants a divorce.")
Accepting the Offer

By using the "Business Plan approach," you have learned how to successfully: define your "product through self-assessment; analyze your market by using your extensive network; market your product with well crafted resumes and cover letters; and sell your product during the interview process by translating your skills and assets into benefits for the employer. The final stage of the process is evaluating your options.

The day you accept a new job is the day you should be the most excited about that position. Accepting a job is a big deal. If you have any doubts, hesitations or reservations, stop and ask yourself if this is truly the job for you. Or, are you considering it out of desperation or fear that you will never find a suitable position? Consider whether you are simply trading one difficult situation for another.

If, however, you are genuinely excited about the possibilities the position presents, accept the position. It may be helpful to review Chapter 4 to determine how good a fit the position is for you.

Once you have accepted the position, send your new employer a thank you note expressing your enthusiasm for the job. This will reinforce in the employer's mind that the right candidate was selected.

Remember to inform all those who have been helpful to you along the way. Send letters to people about your new position thank them for their assistance and support and offer to return the favor in the future.

Certain positive attributes are ascribed automatically to candidates possessing these qualifications whether or not they are truly deserved. The age old debate is, how real are these criteria? How good a set of predictors are they for determining success in a particular organization? How can job seekers who do not fit this profile succeed in a job search?

If you are unhappy with what has been offered, it is appropriate to come back with a counteroffer. The key is to emphasize the benefit to the employer for paying you more. Perhaps if the employer cannot meet your salary expectations, you may be able to convince the employer to give you credit for judicial clerkships, superior academic performance or past careers. Perhaps you can convince the employer to create a new position that would better accommodate your skills, interests and abilities as well as meet their needs. If all else fails, and you still really want the job, suggest renegotiating the salary 3, 6 or 9 months later. Demonstrate your confidence in your abilities by saying something like:

"Let me prove I am worth this. I would be happy to come in at this salary if you could agree to review my performance in six months."

If you are waiting to hear from other employers, contact them immediately and let them know you have an offer and would like to clarify your application status before you make any decisions. A second offer in hand could enhance your bargaining power. However, never lie about having another offer. While it may work, it could backfire and create ill will if the employer finds out. When you compromise your integrity, you demean your value to others and yourself. Remember, the legal profession demands total integrity of its members.

It is important to know when to stop negotiating and start the job. Reaching common ground and setting the stage for mutual respect and cooperation may be more important than the few extra dollars you might be able to obtain. Having your priorities in place will help you decide which things you are willing to sacrifice in the negotiating process.


The best strategy for directing the course of your career is to focus on your skills. Jobs are joint ventures in problem solving.
The idea is to find a match between an employer's needs and your skills. The basic questions in every career are:
  • What needs to be done?
  • What have you been learning?
  • What can you do?
You can begin identifying your skills by completing the following exercise:

Using adjectives, complete the sentence "I can” at least 20 times. When you complete this go back to each sentence, add the phrase "for instance," and provide an example.

The point of this exercise is to remind yourself of the things you can do, as well as to arm you with specific examples which can be used during the interview process.

See the following articles for more information:

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