Training Contract Telephone Interview Questions
Below are some example Training Contract Telephone Interview Questions for a single law firm.
What should I expect?
During the telephone interview, you should be prepared to answer questions on:
• Your interest in law in general and why you want to work in the City
• Your interest in our firm
• Some general commercial questions
• The key skills needed by a trainee solicitor; covered in the form of competency-based questions
Interest in Law?
I am aspiring to become a solicitor because every day is varied, challenging and engaging. As commercial matters span many areas of law, industries and borders, they demand the application of lateral thinking and extensive problem-solving. In turn, this would see me work in integrated teams with a commercial focus on the problem in a quick-paced environment with approaching deadlines. At [Law Firm Name], I especially enjoyed liaising with overseas solicitors on a shareholder dispute within a joint venture. This produced more interesting work, greater variety and a wider group of experts to learn from which made my work environment stimulating and rewarding.
I want to be a City Lawyer because London is one of the world’s leading financial centres and the international hub for English law expertise. I would therefore be exposed to a demanding client segment and complex cases with a cross-border element, which would require me to liaise with a wide range of legal practitioners across many jurisdictions and practice areas.
Why Berwin Leighton Paisner?
It is a very innovative firm that has revolutionised the way in which legal services can be delivered to clients through concepts such as ‘lawyers on demand’ and ‘managed legal service’. This culture will allow me to deliver fresh-thinking solutions to complex problems.
I will receive the excitement of working on cross-border transactions and liaising with overseas lawyers at a firm that is big enough to deliver on major projects for clients, but not so big that it loses its personal touch. This will ensure that I will have direct involvement on large-scale cases where I will apply intellectual rigour to find practical solutions to complex problems.
At Berwin Leighton Paisner I will receive the opportunity to be seconded to the firm’s [city] office. Professionally, it is a key part of the process that could help me to develop into a valued and highly skilled solicitor with a better understanding of how an international practice operates.
Please give an example of a time when you were working with others and your judgement was challenged. How did you respond to this?
At present, I am assisting [law firm], Arps London team on [high-net-worth individual]’s defense to [high-net-worth individual]’s claim estimated at £[value]. I am working closely with [law firm]’s associates from [city] and London offices in conducting document review for the purposes of disclosure request. The second stage of the review produced some controversy as some reviewers came to question my judgment. I maintained a thick skin and applied a sharp analytical mind and irrepressible optimism to explain complex issues in a simple language and made sense of a complicated situation. I was a very careful listener and receptive to criticism. At the same time, I feel that I negotiated with others very successfully and collaborated with the wider team to bring individual elements together and reach a successful conclusion.
Please give an example of a time when you were working with others
I am working closely with [law firm]’s associates from [city] and London offices in conducting document review for the purposes of disclosure request. I have demonstrated excellent interpersonal skills. I applied excellent communication and teamwork skills. I was required to present, interpret and explain complex ideas very clearly and precisely. At the same time, I negotiated with others very successfully and collaborated with the wider team to bring individual elements together and reach a successful conclusion.
Steep learning curve / challenging situation.
At [Law Firm Name], I assisted the senior partner on a cross-border case comprising of a shareholder dispute in a joint venture vehicle. I attended a Board of Directors EGM in a natural resources joint venture in Amsterdam in my capacity as an interpreter between [language] clients and Dutch solicitors. At the EGM, I had to think clearly, identify the key aspects of a problem and apply sound commercial judgment and lateral thought. I was required to explain complex concepts in understandable language, analyse the position, anticipate risk, interpret the reaction of the parties in complicated situations and offer commercial solutions
What skills does a solicitor require/ do you possess/ Why should we select you?
My analytical ability, flexibility, determination and commercial acumen make me suited to a career at BLP because I will deal with cases that transgress multiple jurisdictions and industries. Such cases will require me to interpret, analyse and explain complex issues and offer commercial solutions. The complexity of the cases will require me to liaise with individuals at all levels and communicate my arguments clearly and precisely. By dealing with complex cases that do not always have clearly defined solutions, I will have to be innovative and deal with new ideas and adapt to new challenges.
• At times I fail to see the bigger picture, because I'm so focused on my own work.
• Once I get started I like to get the job done. I often stay at work too late, because I simply can't leave until I've finished what I've set out to achieve.
• Before I start a new project I tend to ask a lot of questions. I like to be sure of the work about to be done, and how I can excel at it, before I get involved with a new project.
Example of BLP deal?
Advised Hellenic Petroleum SA, the largest company in Greece, on the disposal of its interests in oil and gas exploration and production rights in Libya to GDF Suez. The transaction was the first transfer of oil and gas exploration and production rights in Libya for some years and is therefore noteworthy. The particular challenges for the BLP team included an international auction process, a compressed timeframe for negotiations with the preferred and ultimately successful bidder GDF Suez and meeting the requirements of the Libyan National Oil Corporation.
Hellenic Petroleum, one of the largest companies in Greece, sought out our advice on the US$151m disposal of certain of its oil and gas interests in Libya. The combined team of BLP and our local preferred firm, North Africa Advocates, successfully completed the deal in a very short time frame in a period of uncertainty in the market. We also advised the company on a US$500m asset purchase of Greek ground fuels retail and storage assets from BP.
Example of a commercial issue in the news:
I found the $10 billion groundbreaking strategic global alliance between [company] and BP to be of utmost interest. [company] and BP have agreed to explore and develop three license blocks on the [language] Arctic continental shelf.
This historic agreement is of interest to me because it creates the first major equity-linked partnership between a national and international oil company. This landmark deal creates a deep partnership which represents a new stage in these relationships. The world’s need for energy continues to increase. BP is working with national oil companies using its leading exploration skills and expertise to meet this demand. This is a trend which will increase as access to resource becomes scarcer.
Which Departments were affected positively/negatively by credit crunch?
The lending by bank inflated, people unable to pay back, which means that credit is harder to get for businesses, this hampers liquidity and the operation of the businesses.
Positive: restructuring and insolvency, dispute resolution (History has shown that where large loses are suffered, litigation usually follows. In boom times no one wants so sue but in poorer times litigation not just becomes an option but perhaps an
Negatively: Finance, corporate, real estate (not enough liquidity to complete such deals/ borrowing is harder).
Challenges facing the legal industry?
The Legal Services Act will allow for Alternative Business Structures (ABS), which will enable law firms to explore new ways of organising their businesses to be more cost-effective, permit different kinds of lawyers and non-lawyers to work together, and allow for external investment.
Potential benefits for consumers:
• More choice: consumers will have greater flexibility in deciding from where to obtain legal and some non-legal services;
• Reduced prices: consumers should be able to purchase some legal services more cheaply. This should arise where ABS firms realize savings through economies of scale and reduce transaction costs where different types of legal professionals are part of the same firm;
Potential benefits for legal service providers:
• Increased access to finance: at present, providers can face constraints on the amount of equity, mainly debt equity, they can raise. Allowing alternative business structures will facilitate expansion by firms (including into international markets) and investment in large-scale capital projects that increase efficiency;
• Increased flexibility: non-legal firms such as insurance companies, banks and estate agents will have the freedom to realize synergies with legal firms by forming ABS firms and offering integrated legal and associated services.
The New Economics of Law
When goods and services are bought and sold in a free market, buyers seek out lower costs. This applies equally to clients buying legal services from lawyers. Outsourcing has burst onto the legal scene, namely the outsourcing of legal work to lower-cost jurisdictions such as India. This may in due course reduce the need for lawyers whereby the work can be done cheaper abroad or by paralegals.
Questions to ask!
Opportunities and Development
• How does the company plan to develop over the next five years?
• Will there be opportunities to use my language skills?
• How many graduates work on client secondments?