For many school’s interviews, legal knowledge isn’t expected. Even if you’re given a legal scenario or a case, you’ll be given all the information that you need within the question itself. Legal analysis questions are all about problem-solving. It’s assessing whether you can break down individual issues, can you interrogate the law, can you generalise and apply rules from a specific example to a broader context and vice versa.
Most of the applicants will have a hard time. The interviews are designed to challenge the applicant's critical reasoning skills (at a much higher level than A levels) and so it's perfectly normal to feel unconfident.
Strategies to Tackle Legal Analysis Questions
The first step is to read the question carefully. Law is all about the precise use of language so you’ll want to pay extremely close attention to how the language or case is phrased. Find a way to break down the question and try to identify what the point of the question is. One common approach to analysing questions is the IRAC method.
- Issue: Identify the issue, what’s at stake?
- Rule: If applicable, explain the legal rule
- Application: How has the rule been applied in the situation?
Examples question and responses
Question Prompt: If the punishment for parking on double yellow lines were death, and therefore nobody did it, would that be a just and effective law?
This is a real Oxford University Interview question asked to a law student a few years ago. The fascinating feature is that prospective students don't need any prior legal knowledge to answer this. The question is laid out bare to us and it's our duty to analyse and create a fluid argument which can be backed up when interrogated by the interviewer.
A good place to start for this question is to note that there is a distinction between just and effective. Be precise in your language. Don’t bring in words like “fair” and that will muddle up your analysis and move away from the scope of the question.
You can discuss if it’s just to have capital punishment for violating parking laws, if justice have something to do with punishment that is proportionate to the violation. You can also note that since the question states that “nobody did it”, it has proven to be an effective law. Explore then the relationship between just and effective—just because a law is effective, does not mean it’s just. Ultimately, this is the main point of the question. The interviewer is more interested in your exploration of what it means for a law to be just and effective.
Additionally, you can also note that parking in itself is also ambiguous. What constitutes parking and what constitutes just stopping? Is it duration? Intent?
The beauty with these legal questions is that they are open to interpretation. The question is not set in stone, when viewed from a different perspective can change the entire meaning of a phrase or expression.
Do I need to know legal terminology? How much legal knowledge should I have?
You can expect interviewers to ask questions about you to understand why you want to study law. You may also be asked scenario-based questions where you are expected to apply your reasoning and critical thinking skills.
You do not necessarily need to know the law. However, interviewers want to see that you have a broad understanding of current affairs and issues, and are able to pick out key information, break questions down, and apply your thinking skills to see things from multiple, objective perspectives, then take a stand and justify your position.
Another important skill to demonstrate during the interview is your ability to articulate your thoughts clearly and to present arguments logically. Along with your application, the interviewer assesses if you are going to be able to perform well as a law student and eventually as a lawyer.
Question prompt: Is jail the solution to petty crimes?
This seemingly simple question can be broken down into smaller components. Interviewers want to see if you are able to dissect the question and think critically and objectively.
From this question, they are trying to find out:
- How would you define petty crime?
- What should be the purpose of jail as a “solution”? Would you consider rehabilitation? Is preventing reoffending the objective? Does the accused need to make compensation to their victims?
Whether you are building a case for or against jail, some considerations include:
- Age of the offender
- The background of the offender
- Who were the victim(s)
- What was the damage done
Tip: Sometimes it helps to think out loud when answering law interview questions. For example:
“Hmm, let me think about this for a bit.”
“If someone shoplifts, should they be sent to jail?”
Based on your response, interviewers can tell whether you can see things from different points of view or have a single-tracked mind. They want to know if you can suggest a solution that is based on sound reasoning and proportionate to the problem.
Question Prompt: Should NATO and the West do more for Ukraine?
Are you up to date on current affairs? Are you widely-read and able to consider multiple sources of information? Do you have the ability to appreciate different sides of a situation and not take information at face value? Are you able to discern the credibility and accuracy of the source?
For a question such as this, interviewers might want you to take a stand at the end of the question as well. As we mentioned earlier, it is important to show that you have weighed in on all aspects before coming to a conclusion.
As you tackle this question specifically, here are some considerations:
- What is the history between Russia and Ukraine?
- What is the relationship between all parties involved, including NATO and the West?
- What are the possible repercussions if NATO and the West step in?
It is definitely not an easy answer!
There are multiple nuances and complexities to think about. As you justify your stance, show your understanding of the complexity of the situation, and that you have made an effort to think about all aspects and arguments before coming to that conclusion.
Be authentic and be yourself during the interview. The interview is the opportunity for you to tie everything together in a bow - including your application, grades, LNAT score, testimonials and written assignments.
Use this opportunity to explain further, reflect and ultimately show that you have what it takes to be a good law student and eventually, a lawyer.
If you’re still unsure about how to go about acing the interview, drop us a message! We know that law school interviews are intimidating, and we offer mock interviews, interview prep as well as LNAT prep.