Published on June 27, 2019 by Lauren Wade

You’ve got yourself a criminal law training contract interview after sending off your training contract applications. You’ve patiently (somewhat!) waited to hear back from your choices, and now it’s time for you to shine.

Here are the kinds of questions you can expect to hear at your criminal law training contract interview, how best to answer them, and how to impress the interviewer with readily prepared questions of your own.

Want to know how to prepare for a training contract interview? Check out our guide.

Training Contract Interviews

1. Why do you want to become a criminal lawyer?

Exploring and knowing your motivation for your initial application is important. It is also particularly key if you are a non-law applicant. Tell the interviewer(s) about:

  • Your research
  • Your understanding of what it means to be a criminal lawyer
  • The type of cases you think you will be handling (try not to focus on a series of Luther to determine this!)
  • Where you feel you can make a difference

If you have previous experience of studying criminal law at university, be sure to highlight what you loved about it as a specific area of law. It’s also a good idea to include how case law and legislation relating to key criminal law areas sparked your interest in the legal field.

Read Top Tips for your Face-to-Face Training Contract Interview

2. What interests you about a criminal law training contract?

Is there a particular injustice you’ve read about that ignited your interest in a criminal law training contract? Did you read legislation or a specific case and wonder why the decision was made? Have you been to lectures or exhibitions on the history, or the future of criminal law?

It is important to emphasise how you engage with the legal sphere, and particularly, criminal law, as part of your academic education and personal interests. This will show why it is you want to work for a criminal law firm.

Read Five Unusual Training Contract Questions

3. What skills do you have that will make you a successful criminal lawyer?

To feel confident when you walk into the interview, consider what skills and competencies are required specifically in the area of criminal law.

Popular and important examples are communication, problem-solving abilities, teamwork, analytical skills, empathy and good people skills.

Read The Training Contract Application Cheat Sheet

4. What do you see as the main challenges facing criminal lawyers today?

By showing you awareness of the issues faced by criminal lawyers and firms, you’ll show your understanding of the complicated industry and job role that you are applying for.

It demonstrates your tenacity, ambition and commitment to becoming a criminal lawyer. The interviewer will get a clear indication of your willingness to face and overcome obstacles you’re likely to face in the criminal sphere.

Read What to do Between Studying and Your Training Contract

5. What is a recent legal story that you’ve been keeping up to date with, and how has it progressed?

Here, the interviewer is looking for your interest and awareness in how case law and legislation impacts the real world. It is a valuable way to see how you can bring the law to life by taking theoretical concepts and translate these into how they impact people in society.

Demonstrating your commercial awareness of what is happening in the media and the English legal system indicates your understanding of the environment, why this is important to the firm and how it may impact clients.

Read How Much Work Experience do you Need for a Training Contract?

Questions for you to ask

Preparing a list of questions before the criminal law training contract interview shows your enthusiasm at the prospect of getting a criminal law training contract, and at the law firm in particular.

Examples include:

  1. Asking about what challenge the firm faces to maintain or grow its position in the market
  2. If your interviewer is an advocate, asking them about their last successful trial.
  3. Asking the partners why they chose the criminal law route, the type of work they do and what they enjoy about being at the firm.

Ultimately, structure your answers as best as you can, and prioritise providing well-explained answers that demonstrate your excitement over in-depth and polished answers.

Good luck!

Written by Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe

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