Tips on how to approach interview prep for a lawyer

Bain & Company BCG beginner Case Interview law grad McKinsey prep strategy&
New answer on Mar 02, 2020
6 Answers
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Geunhak asked on Sep 07, 2017
Looking for interview-prep partners.. lawyer attempting to switch industries.

Hi everyone,

I come from a legal background and have started looking into the interview processes as I intend to make a career change. It's a bit overwhelming how different the interview process is for consulting is vis-a-vis a legal position. If anyone has been through this route (or switching in from a completely different industry into consulting), I'd be grateful for some pointers on how to make this process efficient.

I know that a serious weakness of mine is with math so working on that... and also having to familiarise myself with the various business concepts/basic frameworks. Is it worth forcusing on this first before diving into cases or doing both in tandem?

Thank you!

(edited)

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Francesco
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updated an answer on Sep 08, 2017
#1 Coach for Sessions (3.700+) | 1.300+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (www.case.tools/results) | Ex BCG | 8Y+ Coaching

Hi Geunhak,

I agree with Hugo, for most non conventional backgrounds (everything different from business/engineering with some years of experience, not coming right after an MBA), the main question mark for the interviewer would be the fit part. In order to work on that, my suggestions would be:

  1. Try to understand in depth what the consultant job/lifestyle is about. Ideally you may want to organize a conversation with a friend in consulting; if that’s not feasible, you may find a good amount of information on PrepLounge and Quora on that
  2. Prepare in advance on a good number of fit questions, ideally with experience candidates on PrepLounge or an Expert
  3. Keep a journal with mistakes and improvement and work on them each day

Besides that and the usual case preparation, coming from a not-business background I would concentrate on the following:

  1. Math. As you mentioned, that’s a critical part interviewers will check from non-quant backgrounds to spot potential weaknesses. The best thing would be defining a daily programme of at least 5-10 mins for math, so that you can keep in shape.
  2. Communication. Consultants have a specific, structured way to communicate. They use a lot of numbers and do not provide excessive long answers (As an example, the typical beginning of the case is: “In order to help our client, I would like to focus on three main areas. Number 1 we may work on [FIRST TOPIC], Number 2 on [SECOND TOPIC], Number 3 on [THIRD TOPIC]. If this is fine for you, let me go deeper in each of them.”). Communication of structures with no numbers or too long/unstructured answers will be penalized.
  3. Business terms. You may find business terms challenging not coming from a business background. In order to work on that, it would be ideal to read a good amount of cases from Consulting MBA Handbooks (there are several available for free online), create a list of all the main terms you are not familiar and analyse the topics.

As for the actual case preparation method, a potential programme could include the following:

  1. General understanding of the process: get a general idea on what a consulting interview is about
    • Resources: Victor Cheng free videos, PrepLounge Resources section
  2. Learning structures and main fit questions
    • Resources: Victor Cheng Look Over My Shoulder, MBA Handbooks, PrepLounge Resources section, Expert sessions
  3. Practicing with live partners to apply knowledge and improve communication
    • Resources:PrepLounge P2P interviews, friends preparing for consulting
  4. Final review to eliminate the last mistakes
    • Resources: PrepLounge P2P interviews (experienced users), friends working in consulting, Experts sessions

As for the time required, in order to be able to receive an offer from MBB, you will probably need to put 150-200 hours, starting from zero, working on your own (less if you have experienced partners/experts). Below you can find more information on that:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/when-to-start-with-preparation-for-an-interview-in-consulting-795

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

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Moshe on Dec 24, 2020

Excellent answer. Moshe Strugano (Attorney - Moshe Strugano and Co Law firm) appreciate your effort

Anonymous replied on Sep 07, 2017

Hello Geunhak,

During business school, I had many friends that were lawyers, architects, and, even, a professional water polo player that made it into consulting through hard work and focusing on their weaknesses.

In my experience, the case interview (including math) can be mastered through practice. However, the fit part during the interviews are critical, especially to convey coherently why you want to switch career, which skills would you bring to the table and why they should hire you instead of other good candidates with business experience. These are a few of the questions you will encounter during your interviews.

If you are interested, we can develop together an action plan to get you in shape for the interviews.

Regards,

Hugo

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Anonymous replied on May 04, 2017

Hi there,

I have a long time friend, Ph.D. in Law as yourself, who got an offer very recently from McKinsey, so it's absolutely possible!

Get everything ready (how to right cv & cover letter from consulting), start practicing and start networking. You wouldn't believe on far networking alone will take you.

Cheers!

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Clara
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replied on Mar 02, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

I completly feel your pain, I am an architect! And yes, you can perfectly make it, even with a different background! Indeed, well played, it can even become an asset!

PM me if you want to talk about it further so we can see strategies.

Cheers,

Clara

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Samuel replied on Mar 02, 2020

By now, you have probably made the switch to management consulting. And if not, it is fine. Life, sometimes, takes us through different routes. If you haven't, and still interested in it, this might help. Perhaps, all you need is the perspective shift.

Now, this response is based off on what I heard from an Ex-Mckinsey Partner, Micheal Boricki (now works with FirmsConsulting, helping people like you make the carrier switch from law to management consulting in MBBs).

I found his answer very exhaustive and I am going to paraphrase it here:

The short answer to your question is this: “If you are an amazing lawyer, it is probably easier than you think.”

Who presides over every single one of the world’s business conflicts? Judges. And do they hold an MBA or studied business? No. They are lawyers. As a person with a civil engineering background, I find it interesting that someone like you without a business degree is the go-to-person in massive and large business decisions (take for instance the recent T-Mobile and Sprint Merger ruling).

If we accept their ruling, then there must be a different reason (that has nothing to do with our initial bias that this person's lack of a background in business is important in evaluating their credibility). The answer is in the way lawyers think!

And the way they think is highly prized at Mckinsey, BCG, Bain, et al! They call it Analytical Thinking. And Lawyers are the one group of people with a high level of analytical thinking capabilities. If you can show that you are an analytical thinker, every other skill you need to learn will come naturally to you as you prepare for your case interviews.

You should know that there is a difference between analytical thinking and quantitative thinking. Many people often confuse the two together. That you are good with math shows that you are good quantitatively but does not necessarily mean you have analytical thinking capabilities, else Mckinsey will be filled with Engineers, Accountants, and Mathematicians. That is not the case, consulting firms are filled with analytical thinkers, a group every good lawyer belongs to.

Don’t undersell yourself. You have what consulting firms crave for!

If you prefer to listen directly to the Ex-Mckinsey Partner who helped me understand this, check out this podcast on youtube: Career advice: Is art or law background worthless to management consulting?

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Vlad
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replied on Sep 17, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Many people who apply don't have a relevant background. That also means you have to develop business knowledge prioritizing the industries that are most common in cases.

Focus on the most common industries in the following priority (sorted by probability of geting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech

There are several sources of info to develop business sense:

1) Cases - you simply solve 50-70 cases and get a broad knowledge of different industries, common pitfalls and questions. The key here - find good partners who already had case interviews with MBB companies

2) Company reports, equity reports, IB roadshow docs - usually have a good overview of company and industries.

3) HBS cases - quite useful, but not sure if lot's of them available publically. Probably worth buying

4) Books - one good book about airlines with numbers and industry analysis can give you all needed industry knowledge

5) News, Industry blogs

For each industry, you should understand:

  • Revenue streams
  • Cost structure
  • Margins
  • Key performance indicators
  • Key revenue drivers
  • Industry trends

I strongly recommend practice drawing structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc

Then I will switch to getting functional knowledge: Marketing, supply chain, finance

Good Luck

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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