August 2, 2018
Gaining legal work experience is tough. There are far too many applicants for the opportunities available, so if you find yourself lucky enough to gain some valuable experience, you’ll want to impress your employer; after all you could be applying there for a job later down the line! One way to make an impression and stand out from the crowd is to ask lots of questions – it will make you seem more interested in the position and job sector.  Here’s four areas you should focus on when preparing questions before you embark on your work experience.

Ask About The Firm

Among the important questions to ask lawyers as a student, the questions that will help you learn more about the firm you work in should be your top priority. Ask questions about the company so you can better understand how a law firm is run and what the work environment of a lawyer is like. 

These questions will also help you show your knowledge and interest in the company. It will show you genuinely want to be a part of the company, and if you hope for your work experience to become a future job offer, this set of questions to ask lawyers will significantly boost your chances of working there. 

In addition, when making your applications, you will have an in-depth knowledge of the company, which can make you stand out from the competition.

Here are some examples of essential questions to ask lawyers about the firm or company:

  • What are the workplace values at your firm?
  • How would you describe your firm’s culture?
  • What is the reality of working for the company compared to popular perceptions? 
  • What is the staff retention policy or procedure?
  • What’s the best part about workign at your firm?
  • What do you think differentiates your firm from other similar law firms?

Ask About The Job

After starting your law career, the job of a lawyer is what you will likely be involved in for the rest of your life while working in different positions, so this is the best time for you to gather factual information about what the job is truly like and not the things you have heard or imagined. 

During work experience, you have the chance to practise and see what your work life will be like, and you will usually be assigned to a supervisor or mentor, so you should take the liberty to ask questions about the job. Get to know the challenges of working in their company, how you can handle them, what responsibilities you will assign to you as a lawyer, and so much more. 

Some examples of questions to ask lawyers about their jobs include:

  • What’s the best thing about your job?
  • What are the most challenging aspects of the job, and how do you manage these?
  • What do you do at work on a daily basis?
  • How do you make decisions at work? What is your process?
  • What do you think are some of the most important skills for lawyers to have?

Like it or not, you may not get experience with certain things until you are a full-time lawyer, and during your work experience, you may not be able to take note of everything on the job, so these questions will help you learn directly.


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Ask About Their Career Path

During work experience, you will also get the chance to learn about the career path you have chosen from people who are already successful in it. 

So some essential questions to ask a lawyer as a student will be questions regarding his personal career path; you can take your supervisors as your mentors and try to learn the important things that have brought them this far in their career and what they also plan to achieve in the path you are treading. 

Some questions to ask lawyers about their careers include:

  • What legal skills did you develop early in your career?
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • What advice would you give to a student considering a legal career?
  • Why did you decide to specialise in this particular area of law?

These questions will help you redefine your goals and put the necessary things in place for the success of your career. 

Ask About Their Personal Experience

Questions about a lawyer’s personal life may seem uninteresting, but they can go a long way to help you manage your expectations and life affairs during your work experience. 

Some examples of personal life questions to ask a lawyer as a student include. 

  • How do you manage your time? 
  • How do you manage stress? 
  • What is your work-life balance like?

Ask For Career Advice

Now, aside from the questions to ask lawyers about their careers, you can also ask for personal advice from your supervisors and other people you will work with during your work experience.

These people have worked in the law firm for some time and are ahead of you in their careers, so they will surely have some good advice to help you navigate your career and increase your chances of retention in the firm after your work experience. 

Here are some good advice questions to ask a lawyer during your work experience. 

  • What do you wish you knew earlier in your career?
  • What do you think firms look out for in applications?
  • Based on your experience, what would you recommend as essential steps for a student to kickstart a successful legal career?

Ask About Industry Trends

When crafting questions, it is important to consider the current legal industry environment. Law firms often have exclusive difficulties and openings that can influence your work life and future career chances. Asking about industry trends and issues shows your commitment to staying informed and being able to adjust to the constantly developing legal world. For instance, you could ask:

  • How is the firm dealing with arising legal technological trends, like AI and blockchain?
  • In light of current regulatory changes in [particular area of law], how is the firm changing its strategies to better serve customers?
  • How do you stay updated on changes in laws and regulations that could impact your work?

Understanding the bigger context in which the firm works can help you link your career goals to their aims and display your readiness to contribute successfully.

Ask About Professional Development Opportunities

Legal work experience isn’t just about the work you’ll be doing during your placement; it’s also an opportunity to explore your own professional development. Inquire about the firm’s commitment to helping young legal professionals grow and thrive in their careers. Some relevant questions include:

  • What mentorship or training programs are available to junior associates or trainees?
  • Can you tell me more about the firm’s approach to ongoing learning and skill development?
  • Are there opportunities for pro bono work or involvement in community initiatives?

Understanding the firm’s dedication to your growth can help you make informed decisions about your career path and demonstrate your long-term commitment to professional excellence.

Following Up After Your Work Experience

After your work experience has ended, it is important to follow up with your supervisor and other people you worked with. This is a great way to thank them for their time and to stay in touch and ask any additional questions to show that you have reflected upon your experience at the firm.

Here are some tips for following up after your work experience:

  • Send a thank-you note to your supervisor and other people you worked with.
  • Ask if you can stay in touch on LinkedIn or via email.
  • Let them know that you are interested in applying for a job at the firm in the future.

Final Thoughts

Now you have them all: some vital questions to ask during work experience and tips that can help you benefit most from your work experience. With what you have learned so far, you are already one step closer to having a fulfilled and impactful work experience in any law firm, but you will achieve more if you put this knowledge to good use. 


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