I got a lot of the "why XX school?" during my interiews. I was pretty honest. I said that I was looking for a school that would give me the most options, would enable me to be the most mobile, and would enable me to re-enter the workplace if I had to leave for a period of time or transfer to another city. As long as you don't say, "I went there because every other school is TTT" you should be fine.
Thanks, I think that is helpful advice. Do you think I should bring a writing sample / list of references? Neither place has requested either but I suppose they would be good to have on hand. Who do people generally use as refereces, law professors they have a good relationship with? Former employers (if in an unrelated field even?) I suppose I will be spending today and tomarrow reading lots about interviews, probably some good stuff on vault somewhere.
I did not bring a list of references or a writing sample. One firm requested a writing sample, which I mailed with my resume and cover letter.
The best advice I can give you is to get a list beforehand of all the attorneys you will be meeting with. That way you can make specific references to their type of practice, a prominent case they tried, book they published, etc. when you ask them questions. Questions that you ask them serve a few purposes, one of which is purely informative--like asking how many different practice areas you will work with during the summer. The other purpose is to make them think you are really intelligent, capable, and prepared. So when it comes time to ask them a question, instead of something general like, "So why did you pick this firm?" you can say, "You went to school in California and spent some time in a New York firm. What made you decide to move to Atlanta? What led you to this firm in particular?" Way, way more impressive.
while you're correct about the importance of researching the firms and interviewers with whom you meet, those questions really are not impressive and do not show that you are intelligent, capable, etc... The fact of the matter is, EVERYONE asks those questions. And if EVERYONE asks the interviewer the same boring questions like "oh, i saw you went to school here, but chose to work there" or "specifically what led you to firm X", they are no longer good questions. If you ask the same lame questions that everyone asks, you'll just become part of the big stack of resumes.
So, try to think of original questions that you are truly interested in. Everyone knows you could care less why specifically did interviewer X chose firm Y. On top of that, I guarantee you that if you ask this question, you will get a canned answer from almost every atty you meet with. S/he will give you the whole "oh the people here are just so great, better than you can find anywhere else, and you really get a sense that the firm is very cordial to its attys and really looks out for them, blah blah blah.
Ask questions that you really want answered. If you're interested in atty's personal experiences working in a particular practice group, ask them to tell you a personal/everyday story. If your're doing a call back, pick a few questions that you really want answered and ask every atty you meet with so you can compare responses.
Everyone is expected to be capable and prepared, but that only gets you so far in an interview. So, show the interviewer that you are truly interested in the position. And do that by asking real questions.