Law Firms Place Interviewees on “Hot Seat”

May 18th, 2011

In order to respond to the evolving legal marketplace, some law firms are transforming the application and hiring process. Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia, according to US News, is placing students on the hot seat to figure out how they can think and reason analytically on the fly:

Their suggestions were molded into a three-pronged interview, debuted in fall 2010, that offers students an almost instantaneous opportunity to showcase their analytical abilities and legal prowess. After an initial 20-minute session, which is largely still based on the traditional model, students move through interactive interviews discussing their writing samples and arguing a fact pattern with firm attorneys—a “hot seat situation,” as Najeeb describes it.

This model aims to identify several skills, including analytical abilities, communication skills, and how someone collaborates and works with a team.

Though arriving at the “right” answer is not crucial, the firm’s unique, hands-on scenario gives attorneys a chance to evaluate a student’s analytical and communication skills, Subak says, as well as their abilities to listen and work as part of a team.

The interview sessions are still just one component in the hiring decision, but the new model is more substantive and revealing, Subak and summer associates say, both for summer candidates attempting to display their qualifications and firm hiring chairs hoping to convey a sense of the firm’s ethos, as well as trying to filter through the applicant pool.

Professors should take note of how firms are now assessing applicants, and incorporate these types of experiences into the classroom setting.