Researching legal secretary interview questions can give most candidates a serious headache. Truly understanding them is even harder, and formulating amazing answers sometimes seems impossible.
However, once you do unlock the strategy to proper preparation, you will acquire a plethora of advantages over your fellow job applicants. It will help you stay confident, give you the tools to tell great narratives, and in the end, boost your odds of acquiring the job you dream of.
This will undoubtedly take time and hard work, but the payoff is worth it. In this article, we will highlight what the common legal secretary interview questions are and how you can answer them.
What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing people for a legal secretary role?
Every employer has their own unique list of qualities they want in their candidates. They each have different values, needs, goals, existing team members, and many other factors. As such, it is not possible to be the best candidate for every legal secretary position.
You need to find the organization that suits your personality and vice versa. That being said, some skills and traits are very beneficial to have for your legal secretary career. A few of these qualities are:
You need to be a great organizer if your goal is to become a legal secretary. The organization gives you a huge upper hand over your other colleagues. It allows you to stay as efficient and productive as possible.
The organization allows you to focus on what matters most and boosts your ability to stay calm under pressure and achieve the goals you wish to achieve. They can help you avoid becoming frustrated because of an inability to get work done and instead boost your positivity.
Another very important skill that legal secretaries should have is time management. If you know how to properly manage your time, you will be able to focus on what matters most to you.
Instead of wasting time on frivolous tasks, you would be able to focus more on what you love doing most. This will boost your passion and positivity in the long run.
Interpersonal skills are a must-have for any secretary, especially those working in law. You will be speaking to individuals on a daily basis. Whether it be your boss, coworkers, clients, or others, you need to make the most out of all these interactions.
To do this, use interpersonal skills. They allow you to clearly communicate, build strong and long-lasting relationships, and empathize with others.
The previous other skills listed were all soft skills. Writing is categorized as a technical skill, but that does not make it any less important. Writing is a key part of the legal secretary’s job. Secretaries will write reports, emails, and other documents as well on a daily basis.
To perform as well as you can, you need to master your writing skills. This would let you communicate more clearly.
Hard skills, or technical abilities, are also extremely important to have. You will need to work with a significant amount of technology every day. In today’s world, many businesses, including law practices, are powered by technology. Many software platforms are now a crucial part of legal work.
28 Legal Secretary Interview Questions and Answers
Every law company conducts its interviews in a unique way. The questions are often unpredictable, which is a major source of stress for applicants. However, there are still ways you could prepare and boost your odds of having a successful interview.
One way is to become familiar with the most common interview queries. This way, you get more comfortable with the questions.
General Interview Questions
1. Tell us about our law firm.
This question tests how much you know about the company you are applying to. The company needs to make sure that you, as a candidate, do your homework. However, it is about more than just this. You need to make sure that your personality can align with the needs of the company, so highlight this when answering the question.
One way to respond would be: “I know your law firm takes on a variety of different clients, but focuses on the pharmaceutical industry. Some of your recent clients were local biotechnology companies, and you have a team of around 15 people at the moment. I remember this is a family business started by 2 brothers, too.”
2. Is being a legal secretary your ultimate career goal? Or, do you wish to pursue other career paths as well?
Your ambitions are an important factor that will influence whether or not you acquire the job you applied to. It shows what you deem to be important and what you view your future should be. If you focus on too many different career paths, you may not seem very dedicated. Instead, try to place emphasis on how your goals align with the company.
A sample response is: “My ultimate goal is to continue working as a legal secretary for the near future. I have loved doing this work, and I have had amazing experiences. So, I want to continue doing this for as long as I can. After that, I may want to get another similar job but in a higher position. I know I want to work in law for the rest of my career.”
3. If there is conflict at work, how do you tackle it?
It is inevitable that during your time at work, there will be a conflict. As much as you may want to avoid it, this is simply reality. You need to have an effective strategy for combating this if you wish to succeed in this role.
If you have examples of you mitigating or overcoming conflicts, use them. Otherwise, provide a general overview of how you would do so.
A way you could answer is: “I have experienced many conflicts throughout my career. The best way to overcome them is to find a way to calm down, often separating from the other party, and then coming together to negotiate. This way, we can come back together with clear minds and formulate a solution together.”
4. Do you know what you will be doing on a daily basis as a legal secretary?
This is another query that tests how well you prepared for the interview. It also tests your attention to detail. You need to make sure you carefully read the job description to answer the question accurately. Take note of a few of the most important duties in your position, and highlight them during your reply.
When responding to the question, you could say something along the lines of: “One of my top duties will be to communicate with clients and lawyers via several platforms like email, cell phone, and Slack. I will be great customer and when attending trials, type the minutes individuals speak. The company’s court statements will also be input by me.”
5. How long do you want to be in this position of legal secretary?
Similar to another previously mentioned question, this query aims to understand your short and long term goals. They want to know if you are committed to their organization and if you are truly committed to being a legal secretary for the long term.
Answer honestly, but showing the answer to these questions being yes makes you seem like a dedicated candidate.
A sample response could be: “I love being a legal secretary. I have tried numerous other secretary positions, but my last job was that of a legal secretary. I was very passionate about it, and only left it because the company shut down. So, I want to work with your organization for at least the next 5 years, but hopefully more.”
6. Are you able to type quickly while maintaining high accuracy?
One of the top skills a great legal secretary must have is writing abilities. This means not only efficient and quick writing, but also understandable and accurate writing. If you know how to balance these two factors, you will be quite impressive to the interviewer. If you have proof of these abilities, showcase them to the interviewer.
One way to respond would be to say: “Yes, I can type quite quickly with high accuracy. I have received a certificate of my typing abilities through Typing.com, which shows that I have typing skills that surpass 70 words per minute and a 98% accuracy.”
7. Tell me about your customer service experiences. Do you know how to communicate with your clients through email, phone, and physical mail channels?
Communication will be a major part of your work as a legal secretary. You need to have this skill mastered if you wish to acquire the job you dream of.
Great communication means being able to change your communication style depending on who you are talking to. It also means being able to listen effectively and get your points across as well.
One way to respond would be to say: “Yes, I have experience communicating with customers through a wide variety of channels, including email, phone calls, and physical mail as well as other platforms. In fact, I was the main individual response for customer communication at my last job.”
8. What makes you passionate about working in the law industry?
It takes a special person to work in the field of law. You need to highlight that you have the unique personality it takes to succeed in this field. It requires dedication, hard work, and great people skills as well as fantastic technical abilities.
You need to show you have a passion for it, too. Highlight emotional reasons or personal stories that demonstrate your passion for law.
One way to respond is: “I am extremely passionate about law because lawyers have helped my family in their time of need. When there was an unjust business regulation in my hometown, a pro bono lawyer helped my family tackle this law and eventually get it overturned. This saved our family’s business and our livelihoods.”
9. What makes you a great candidate for this position?
The job you are applying for a legal secretary position, you need to realize there are likely dozens or even hundreds of other job applicants for the same role.
You need to differentiate yourself and make yourself memorable if you want to. To do this, you must demonstrate clear passion, experience, and unique personality traits.
A potential response could look like: “I believe that I am well suited for this position because I have a significant amount of experience in this industry. I have worked with numerous local law firms and non-law-related organizations alike to better hone my secretary skills. I have used a plethora of different communication platforms and have worked with customers similar to those likely visiting this firm.”
Experience and Background Interview Questions
10. What is your experience with filing techniques? Do you know about the commonly used confidentiality procedures? Tell me about them.
Having a strong background in understanding the workings of confidentiality and the rules surrounding this discipline is crucial for you as a secretary. You will be working with large amounts of personal information on a daily basis.
To ensure you can handle this important duty, and know how to efficiently file this information, the interviewer may ask you this query.
One way you could respond is: “I have been in this field for over 20 years, so I have gotten to know the confidentiality and filing strategies very well. For filling, I make distinct folders for all our recent clients and routinely update them. I place them into case-type categorizations, such as one overarching folder for medical companies and another for lawsuits regarding privacy. For confidentiality, I online share information with each client about their case and block folder access with passwords.”
11. What are your strategies for overcoming challenges during your career?
As wonderful as it would be to always avoid problems and conflicts, this is sadly an inevitable part of any job. You need to be able to combat these issues as they arise.
As such, highlight your strategies for targeting problems early on and quickly addressing them. This will show that you are a problem solver and critical thinker.
A sample response could be: “My top strategy for overcoming challenges is to make plans and goals. I will first state a goal, and then create 3-5 steps that I need to achieve in order to accomplish the goal. Each day, I remind myself of these tasks, and apply them to challenges I face on a daily basis. If I feel unmotivated, I remind myself of my passion and my goal.”
12. Do you have prior experience working as a legal secretary? If so, why did you leave your prior position?
Interviewers almost always look out for experience when hiring job candidates. If you have a great track record, they are much more inclined to hire you. As such, take any opportunity you are given to show your experience and stand out from the crowd.
However, if you do not have much experience, you are not doomed. You can still wow an interviewer with other parts of your application. Still, if you do have experience, highlight what you learned from it and if you left, the reason why.
A potential response could be: “I have over 15 years of experience as a secretary. The last 10 years were spent working as a legal secretary specifically. I worked with law groups that specialized in helping clients with disabilities get justice. In the end, I did not have a choice to leave my last job, since they were closing their practice due to moving.”
13. What is your experience with creating depositions or subpoenas?
You should be familiar with key law vocabulary such as dispositions and subpoenas if you wish to acquire the law secretary role. However, this is just the beginning of this question. You are also given the task of explaining your experience with these tasks. If you have experience, use it to your advantage. Show how your ability to make depositions and subpoenas positively impacted your prior clients or team as a whole.
One way to respond would be: “Yes, I have significant experience creating subpoenas and dispositions. In fact, I was one of the few individuals doing this at my prior job. I would draft subpoenas and later present some of this to our legal team for further discussion.”
14. At any of your prior jobs, did you have to make ethically-based decisions on a consistent basis? What were your experiences doing this?
Law is inherently intertwined with ethics. To be a great legal secretary, you must have a strong moral compass. Interviewers will look out for this when they go to hire you.
You must demonstrate that you have strong principles that you will not abandon, even when under pressure or stress. Try to find an organization whose values and principles align with yours so you can be a great natural fit.
When answering, you could respond with something along the lines of: “My ethical principles were tested numerous times throughout my career. I had to make ethical decisions daily, such as whether I should reveal clients’ data to coworkers in exchange for extra help. I ensured that I kept everything confidential, even though it meant I had to work harder.”
15. How does your education make you better suited for this position?
Your education likely plays a major role in who you are today. What makes your education unique? What were some major lessons you learned from your educational experiences? How do those lessons make you a better employee? These are all questions that should be addressed in your response to this query.
A sample response is: “Education helps me become the best employee I can be. During my time in college, for example, I learned how to be a great listener. I had to work with many other individuals on several projects. To keep ourselves a cohesive team, I had to learn to truly listen without just trying to formulate a response. That way, we could learn from each other and make the best project we possibly can. I plan to do the same in this role as well.”
16. Do you know how to keep track of minutes, summaries or briefs after conversations and meetings we have in person, or even virtually?
Just like speaking to customers is a major part of being a legal secretary, so is reporting minutes. You will have to keep track of speaking time both in virtual meetings, in conversations, and sometimes during court sessions, too.
It is always good to show you are efficient and experienced if you have the proof. Give examples of you keeping track of minutes effectively if you have them.
A sample response could be: “I do know how to keep track of minutes. At my prior job, we had an online software that helped me keep track of the minutes. I had to switch it on at times to start a timer, and keep track of who was speaking during that time. Other times, I had to keep track by writing it on paper and keeping it in a “minutes” folder on my desk.”
17. Do you have experience communicating and collaborating with insurance agencies?
The insurance and law fields often have to collaborate. Clients seeking assistance often need assistance from an insurance agent as well, for example. And, lawyers need to have insurance for their practices to stay safe from their own legal troubles.
As such, having a legal secretary that knows how to work with insurance companies is extremely beneficial.
One way you could answer this query is: “Yes, I have had decades of experience working with insurance companies. If a client needed assistance from an insurance agent, it was my duty to provide them with that help. I would also have to make sure my employer had his insurance up to date and available when necessary.”
18. Tell me about your experience with writing in your prior jobs. Describe your legal writing skills.
Legal writing will be one of the most important daily tasks you must perform as a legal secretary. This means consistently creating accurate legal reports while also doing this efficiently, which is especially important if you work for a large legal firm.
If your strength is writing, you will have a strong advantage over those who do not have legal writing abilities.
When answering, you can say something along the lines of: “I had to do lots of legal writing during my prior careers. I had to make sure that the papers I wrote clearly highlighted the needs of the client and what we could do for them, for example. I also had to write about what individuals.”
Role-specific interview questions
19. How do you start when beginning to research a new case for your team?
This question tests your knowledge on the ways you can prepare for writing and researching cases. Research is very important if you want to become a legal secretary.
It is what allows you to better understand your clients, their unique needs, their perspective, and their goals. As such, you need to highlight your research abilities when answering the question.
One way to do so would be to respond with something such as: “I first look at the reason the client came to us. I consider what caused the problem and the potential solutions we can offer. I often research similar cases as well. Then, I try to work with the lawyers to develop a plan of action and record their thoughts. We work together throughout the rest of the case as well.”
20. What is your strategy for balancing tasks such as filing and transcribing with tasks that require direct customer contact, like speaking over the phone or meeting in person?
Sometimes, being a legal secretary will feel like a balancing act. You will need to perform so many different job duties that simply managing your time will become a duty in and of itself.
However, candidates that are able to do backend work such as legal writing or transcribing as well as the “people work” like meeting with clients and greeting them are the best matches for most organizations. Highlight your ability to balance between these two roles in your response.
A sample response could be: “My strategy for balancing more technical tasks with interpersonal tasks is to have great plans and manage my time ahead of the events. For example, I prefer to do more technical work in the morning, or whenever there are less clients coming in. That way, I can better serve clients during our busy times and keep my productivity high.”
21. Have you ever taken action to fix a problem at work? How did you do this?
Being a problem solver is a highly beneficial trait for anyone to have. If you can demonstrate that you not only can find problems, but actually fix them, then you will be viewed very favorably by the interviewer.
However, just saying you can do this is not enough to convince them. Instead, you must show them proof you are capable of doing so.
When responding, you should say something such as: “I have had to work through numerous challenges during my legal secretary career. Through doing so, I learned to identify problems and fix them quickly. For example, we had our phone get disconnected at one point. I had to investigate the source of the disconnection, and quickly found out it was due to the bill not being paid. I quickly called the phone company and restored the connection so that we could take calls and not miss any of our client’s concerns.”
22. Suppose a client asked you for something that you could not give them. How would you respond?
It is ideal to do everything in your power to serve the needs of your clients. However, the reality is that even when you go above and beyond, you will be incapable of serving some of their needs.
To properly respond in these situations, you need to know how to communicate your limits and still try your best to satisfy the customer.
For example, you can say something such as: “I would respond with ‘I am sorry to say, but I cannot reveal the information we have about another client. However, you said that you needed assistance with a case regarding fraud. We have lawyers that can handle this case without having to go into the details of another client’s transactions.”
23. How do you think technology can be used to benefit law practices? Do you think it should be a priority in the workplace?
Technology can be a double-edged sword to law firms. On one hand, it is becoming increasingly necessary to survive in a digitized world. Technology can also boost efficiency. But, it can also distract individuals or be very costly.
You must weigh the pros and cons and communicate them to the interviewer. Show that you have technical skills to use technology efficiently and note how this can be impactful to their team.
A sample response is: “Technology gives us the opportunity to better serve our clients and me the chance to be the best legal secretary I can be. It serves me time and helps me more efficiently communicate with my clients. Every firm uses technology, so we must ensure we uphold industry standards. Therefore, technology should play a significant role in this field.”
24. Which forms of documents are classified as “discovery documents”?
This question tests your knowledge about essential terms every legal secretary should be aware of. If you can show you are aware of this term, you will seem knowledgeable and prepared for the interviewer.
Go above and beyond by connecting the meaning of this term to how they are used and their impact on the case as a whole.
One way you could reply would be: “In general, discovery documents are the documents that are exchanged between two parties in the process of information exchange regarding a case. They play a key role in establishing what each side knows about the case and are the basis of formulating arguments.”
Behavioral interview questions
25. Suppose you had to finish numerous tasks simultaneously for different attorneys due to them all being urgent. How would you go about accomplishing these tasks?
One of the most common struggles that many legal secretaries have is being able to properly manage their time. Often, you will have to do so many different tasks that it can be extremely difficult to choose just one to focus on at a time.
So, you should have a strategy in mind for task prioritization so that you do not waste time wondering which to do first.
When answering, you could respond with something along the lines of: “I will first hear out the numerous tasks and then quickly rank them in order of importance. This ranking depends on who the client is, what their case is about, and how much time the task will take. After that, I begin working on those tasks.”
26. What is your criteria for recognizing whether a source is accurate or not when researching cases?
Where you get your information plays a significant role in the outcomes of the case you are working on. If you rely on poor sources, the outcome of the case is likely to be negative as well.
You must show that you have strong judgment and critical thinking skills. Additionally, this will ensure that the organization does not lose time or money due to your errors in finding sources.
A sample response is: “I look at what the source has done for other individuals and how they have impacted our prior cases. Then, I also just evaluate the source itself. Do they have testimonials? Who have they helped? How could this impact my client, and how could this information be applied? Is it within the sphere of typical law material? These are all questions I seek to answer during my time searching for sources.”
27. Do you ever pursue work outside of your job duties? What is your strategy for balancing your current responsibilities with the duties you pursue outside of your primary duties?
Employers love to see employees who are ambitious and willing to go the extra mile for their work. If you have examples of you going above and beyond to achieve those duties, and then taking opportunities that are not just required for your job.
Those who take up additional opportunities but still perform exceptionally well are seen as top-tier candidates for the legal secretary position.
When answering, you could say something along the lines of: “Yes, I try to be as involved in my work as possible. This often involves taking up additional roles outside of the work I must do. For example, I sometimes take calls from clients outside of working hours. I work on projects the team needs finished or organize folders past hours as well.”
28. Is there a particular subsect of the legal field you find most interesting? And, are there specific types of cases that most intrigue you?
The interviewer wants to know what gets you excited. To perform the best you can at work, you need to be passionate. Find a job whose cases align with your interests so you will be fulfilled.
Then, state that you are passionate about those case types when answering this question. This will help the interviewer see that you are the best fit for their organization.
When answering, you could say something along the lines of: “Yes. While I love working with law in general, I especially enjoy working on cases that help children or individuals with disabilities. I believe that these individuals often need the most assistance and are some of the most vulnerable populations in this country. I would love to use my services to help them during their time of need.”
Questions for You to Ask in a Legal Secretary Job Interview
When you think of interviews, the image that typically comes to mind is a candidate stressing while the interviewer asks them a series of questions. It is true that the majority of questions during a job interview will be asked to you as the candidate.
However, there are opportunities for you to ask questions to the interviewer as well. In fact, doing so has several benefits, like showing your engagement and passion for the career. You can many different questions during your interview, but here are just a few examples:
- When are you looking to hire your next legal secretary?
- Will I be reporting to lawyers, administrators, or another individual or group of individuals?
- Do you have a training process in place for newly hired legal secretaries? If yes, what is included in the process?
- How do you evaluate a legal secretary’s performance? How often do you perform these evaluations?
- Could you tell me how the leaders of this organization work with their team and lead them? What is their leading style?
- What skills do you think an ideal legal secretary should have for your team?
How To Prepare for a Legal Secretary Job Interview?
Interviews are a big deal for legal secretaries. Secretaries need to be masters of the first impression, and that is exactly what an interview is. So, there is no wonder why people often stress before interviews. Everyone has a unique strategy for approaching job interviews.
Some try to buy dozens of books or spend hundreds of hours preparing. However, these strategies are often ineffective or costly. There are other ways you could go about preparing for your job interview that are just as effective, if not more effective while being quicker and cheaper.
One way you could go about preparing for a job interview is to read about commonly asked interview questions for legal secretaries. This will help you get more familiarized with the queries so you are not taken off guard.
However, try going beyond just reading the questions. Formulate some quick responses as well. This way, when you are asked such a question, you have a baseline knowledge of what your response could be.
In addition to that, you should also try to learn as much as possible about the company you applied to. Reread the job description so you know your daily tasks. Think about the values of the company and how they align with yours.
Notice the demographics of their clients and the types of cases they specialize in. Doing so will all help you better relate to the interviewer and highlight why you are the right candidate for their organization.
As previously noted, there are a plethora of different strategies you could use when preparing for an interview. Once the interview starts or even when preparing, people often have a hard time highlighting their personal experiences.
Personal experiences and stories play a major role in the interview process. There is one technique you should know if you want to become a better storyteller: the STAR technique.
STAR is a narrative technique that can help you clearly and effectively communicate your stories. The acronym stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. The situation is your chance to outline what was going on in the story: where you were, who was with you, and what was happening.
T is for Task, or your responsibility in this situation, such as what you had to do in this situation. A is for Action, or the steps you took to complete a goal. And finally, R is for the Result, or the quantifiable outcome of your actions.