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Some answers to five of the most obtuse questions you're likely to encounter in your interviews for articles (legal internship)

(Published in De Rebus - The Law Society of South Africa Magazine - December 1994. Reprinted in The Proctor - Queensland, Australia Law Society Magazine - June 1995)

After a long silence, intentionally timed to observe and exacerbate the discomfort of the nervous law student, the interviewers clear their collective throats, click their knuckles and gleefully begin their interrogation.

Attorneys: Tell us, what made you choose law as a career?

What you'd like to answer:
1. I have a paper fetish - the stuff just turns me on so I thought to myself, which profession goes through the most paper and the obvious answer was law.
2. The money.
3. I couldn't decide whether to do law or accountancy so I played paper-rock-scissors and law came out the winner.

What you answer:
I have always wanted to help my fellow-person, and knowing that 68% of our population is deprived of their right of access to our courts bothers me so much that I felt it my obligation to get involved in the pursuit of justice.

Attorneys: What made you apply to our firm?

What you'd like to answer:
1. I only applied to law firms within a 3-mile radius of my house. You just happened to be one of those firms.
2. I applied to every firm in the law directory! What, did you really think that I only applied to your firm? Ha!
3. I heard that you don't allow your interns to do photocopying.

What you answer:
I want to work for a firm with a reputation for excellence in all fields of the law and for a firm with the highest ethical standards. From what I've heard and read about your firm, I believe it fulfils these criteria. That is the reason I applied here.

Attorneys: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

What you'd like to answer:
1. For crying in a bucket, I can't even picture where I'll be next week! How in the hell do you expect me to tell you what I think I'll be doing five years from now?
2. Sitting in your chair, sir.
3. At Sterkfontein Mental Institution weaving baskets after suffering from a nervous breakdown occasioned by practicing law.

What you answer:
I see myself working hard as a PA hopefully in this firm while at the same time lecturing part-time at Wits Law School and contribution articles to the South African Law Journal. Law is my passion so I'm quite sure that it will be at the center of my life.

Attorneys (to a female hopeful): I see you are single Miss Slon. Do you have a boyfriend or plan to get married in the near future?

What you'd like to answer:
1. What the hell does my personal life have to do with my application for articles, you sexist warthog!? [Get up and walk out of the room in a huff.]
2. No, I don't have a boyfriend. I prefer to screw around. What are you doing after this interview, cutie?
3. Yes, I do plan on getting married and I hope to have a dozen children so that I can get loads of maternity leave and plunge your precious firm into dire financial straits!

What you answer:
No, I don't have a boyfriend nor do I intend to get one while doing my internship. I am a very focused person and I am adamant that nothing should distract me from my articles. I'm an independent woman and don't find any need for involved relationships at this stage of my life.

Attorneys: What do you expect from your two year articles internship?

What you'd like to answer:
1. Sheer hell.
2. Sheer hell and some photocopying.
3. Sheer hell, some photocopying and a pathetic salary.

What you answer:
Two fulfilling years getting to grips with the practical applications of all the legal theory I've studied at university. I expect a lot of hard work and long hours but I feel excited by the tremendous challenge this presents.