Tweet Share Whatsapp Email Written by Katherine Ng, Consultant at Lewis Sanders How to prepare for a written assessment? It is common for law firms to require potential candidates to sit written assessments during the interview process. Even for senior associate and counsel roles, having to undergo a written assessment is now becoming more common place. On one hand, it provides the firm an opportunity to see if a candidate has the skills and abilities required for the role and on the other, the candidate an opportunity to understand the firm’s expectations. Each firm tailors’ different forms of written assessments to determine whether one is a suitable candidate for them. Examples of written assessments include being provided a case scenario with several documents and being asked to prepare a draft email to a client, a memo for a senior associate / partner, or a draft letter to an opponent. Often, several queries are raised, and candidates will have limited time to prepare their answers. Written assessments can take place either at home, or in the interviewer’s office. Some firms even arrange for senior associates or partners to contact the potential candidate during the written assessment to ascertain whether they can work under pressure and to test their time-management skills. Preparation Law firms often inform candidates that it is not necessary to prepare prior to a written assessment as they should be accustomed to advising on legal issues as part of their day-to-day routines. Albeit true, candidates should not take written assessments lightly. To better equip yourself, we suggest that you review the firm’s website and the partner’s profiles you are interviewing for. Re-familiarising yourself and keeping the key legal concepts at the forefront of your mind about the types of cases the partner handles will be helpful. Written assessments are often on topics the partner is specialised in. Reading recent articles written by the partner may also shed light on their views on legal updates, as well as their preferred writing style. How to write Although technical capabilities are important, it is important for candidates to remember that drafting skills play a large part as well. Some points to keep in mind include: Audience Who is the recipient and are you using an appropriate tone? If the recipient is a lay client, discussing complicated areas of jurisprudence and elaborating on Latin terms will not impress the firm. Instead, using simple English, short sentences and appropriate sub-headings to put your argument through will be preferred. Structure Have you set out your findings in an easy-to-read format? If you are asked to provide a legal opinion, it is always helpful to set out an executive summary before going into the background, issues, analysis and conclusion. If you are drafting an email to a partner, enclosing copies of the relevant cases and legislation for their easy reference is often helpful. Analysis Does your answer show commercial awareness and have you identified all the relevant issues and understood them? Candidates have failed written assessments in the past for forgetting to consider whether Hong Kong has jurisdiction to handle the case, limitation periods, and enforceability issues. Double-checking dates and considering whether it clashes with any public holidays if you are asked when you should file a document into Court is also important. If the case scenario raises risk-management issues, referring to your professional obligations will be necessary, as well. Attention to detail Have you proofread your answer and are there any spelling or grammatical errors? Whilst working under pressure, candidates sometimes forget basic writing concepts, such as the difference between “Yours faithfully” – if you do not know the name of the person you are writing to and “Yours sincerely” – if you know the name of the person you are writing to. Time management Similarly to an exam, it is important for candidates to address all questions set out in the assessment, instead of perfecting only one answer. If you do not have time to address all the points in detail, elaborate on the main issues and include in the end of your response that you note some other potential issues, but you can discuss these with the client or partner at a later stage. Firms want to see how candidates operate under pressure and the ability to identify key issues within a limited time is crucial. Translation Translation tests are also a common form of assessment. It is important to clarify with the firm beforehand as to whether they want candidates to complete the assessment by hand, or if candidates can type their answers on a computer. Depending on the role, candidates are usually provided with a judgment, prospectus, or contractual agreement in English, and asked to translate the document into either Traditional or Simplified Chinese. Alternatively, candidates may be provided with a clause from a Chinese agreement and asked to translate it into English. Other forms of assessment include drafting emails or letters in Traditional or Simplified Chinese to a client or an opponent. Reviewing key legal terms and concepts in Chinese are helpful prior to a written assessment. Remaining consistent and not confusing Traditional and Simplified Chinese characters is also important. As always, always ensure you save some time to proofread your work before submitting the same. Admittedly, the process of undergoing a written assessment is daunting (even to the most experienced lawyers), as many have not experienced this since applying for a training contract many years ago. However, by remembering some of the basic points set out above you should be well on your way to passing any written assessments. As experienced legal recruiters, we are usually able to provide a general idea of the test structure, time limit, examples of questions and the firm’s expectations. Feel free to reach out to me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or WhatsApp at (+852 6340 5376) for a confidential chat if you intend to apply to a law firm but are concerned about their written assessments.