Legal Analysis & Writing - Section B2 - Sinsheimer


Assignment: Interview of a Legal Professional

Sometime between now and our first class next semester, I would like you to hold an informational interview with a lawyer whose work is potentially of interest to you or is in an area in which you would like to know more about. You may approach someone you know already or request an informational interview with someone you have not met. The interview may take many forms, but the goal is to expose you to the variety of roles that lawyers play in the profession and society.  By engaging in this interview, you will gain a better appreciation of the practical and intellectual aspects of different professional roles. 

You should write up the results of your interview in a short summary of no more than 500 words. Your summary should synthesize the answers to your interview questions; you may focus on the information you found to be the most interesting or “the highlights” of your interview.  In addition to the summary, you should attach the questions you used to guide the conversation. Be prepared to hand-in your summary and to report on this interview during our first class after winter break.

Be sure to address four areas in your summary:

Explain who you have interviewed and why you selected this person.

Identify this person’s practice area. For example, does this person practice in one of the following areas or in a more non-traditional area?  Explain your answer.


Commercial litigation                                                      International law

Family law                                                                           Public interest law

State/federal agency                                                     Personal injury litigation

In-house work                                                                  Environmental

Criminal/ defense and prosecution                          Health law

ADR                                                                                       IP/technology law

Employment law                                                              Estates and trusts

Describe the nature of most of his or her work, using the following questions as a guide. Feel free to add other questions, but be sure to keep track of the questions you ask and the responses you elicit.

 Who are your clients?  Is that mix typical for someone in this practice area?

What proportion of time do you spend meeting with people, reading, drafting documents, doing research, negotiating, engaging in discovery, etc.?  Do you work alone or with other people?  (What is a typical week like?)

With whom do you work most closely?  Your clients? Other attorneys?  Allied staff (e.g., paralegals, clerks)? Professionals in other disciplines?

What is most interesting about the work?  Satisfying?  Challenging?  Frustrating?

What do you like least about the work?

What kinds of ethical challenges do you confront in the work?

How do you draw upon the concepts or skills learned in Law School? What skills did you need to learn on the job?

If law students want to work in this field, in what areas of law should they consider taking classes?  Are there particular skills used regularly that students should try to begin developing?

What kinds of opportunities will junior attorneys have in this field in coming years?

What is a common career path for someone in this field? What was your career path?

Are there lifestyle features (sane vs. impossible hours; predictability; flexibility; heavy or no travel; etc.) that characterize this work?

Evaluate whether this type of work is of interest to you: do you think you would like to do this kind of work? Why or why not?