Interviewing, while on the surface it may appear relatively simple, is an exceedingly difficult skill to master, calling for the strictest of professionalism and the upmost of tact. It is paramount in the legal profession, undertaken by solicitors on a daily basis. Competitors are required to uncover as much information from their client as possible within the space of time afforded them, while also being sympathetic to said client’s needs, expectations and concerns.
Teams must consist of two students, and can be made up of any combination of eligible year levels. Although interviews are considered less formal than moots, students are expected to wear corporate attire when competing.
Prior to the Interview:
Each team will receive its respective memorandum via email two days before the interview is set to take place. This will vary in length, depending on the difficulty of the question, but will generally contain a small amount of information that will provide a vague preview of what teams will encounter in the interview itself. The most important aspect of preparation is in developing the actual structure of the interview and a general question template, both of which may need to be adapted during the interview itself in order to accommodate the client. Aside from this, preparation, as a general rule, is limited to identifying essential facts and any red herrings in the memorandum, familiarising oneself with the area of law likely to apply, the elements of any potential offences and remedies which may be available; an extensive knowledge of case law and statute will not be required.
Teams will be given a strict 30 minute period in which to conduct their interviews, after which time they will then be required to leave the room for five minutes while the judge convenes with the client. This will be followed by an informal ten minute debrief conducted between the judge and the competitors themselves.
A Basic Structure:
The progress of an interview will differ in accordance with a team’s chosen strategy.
There are, nonetheless, some basic elements to be found in most standard client interviews:
- Teams will usually begin with casual introductions and a brief explanation of matters including, but not limited to, the purpose of the interview and the roles of each party, confidentiality concerns and any relevant costs.
- The client will be requested to give his/her account of the events leading up to the interview.
- Teams will then proceed to ask more specific questions of their client in order to flesh out the issues relevant to his/her matter.
- When this has been done to the satisfaction of all parties, the interviewers will generally conclude with a re-cap of relevant details and a very general explanation of the potential legal consequences.
- The ensuing debrief allows teams to reflect on their performance. The judge will ask that the interviewers discuss what they felt to be the strengths and weaknesses, if any, of their conduct, and what they might do differently in future.
Competitors are assessed on a scale of one to five (one being the lowest) on ten primary criteria. These include, among other things, their ability to establish a rapport with the client, understand the client’s objectives, analyse the issues at hand, recognise alternative courses of action, assist the client in making an informed choice, teamwork and reflection. A complete list of criteria will be sent to competitors upon their application to compete.