A law assessment centre is a day spent with a law firm that comprises of further assessments of candidates through a range of tests, exercises and interviews. It is usually the final stage in the application process of a vacation scheme or training contract.

Assessment Centre Exercises 

Whilst assessment centres and the exercises vary from firm to firm, below is an overview of the different kinds of exercises you may expect:

  • Competency-based interview
  • Situation-based interview
  • Behavioural-based interview
  • Presentations
  • Group exercises (role-play, negotiation, debate, problem-solving exercise or mock-meeting can be expected)
  • Written exercise (report writing, legal-based)
  • Psychometric tests

Group Exercises

Group Exercises are used during assessment centres to test your teamwork, leadership and communication skills. You will usually be put into a group to execute a given task which will involve communicating with your peers.

Assessors look for a balanced contribution, a sensitive attitude towards the ideas of others, the ability to work with a variety of people, time-management whilst remaining goal-focused, analytical thinking, problem-solving skills and finally strong communication skills which display persuasion and influence.

  • Negotiation – A common group exercise takes the form of a negotiation which could be based on a commercial issue. Assessors usually look to see how individuals can get the best out of colleagues, collaborate to reach a consensus and find the best solution for the client within the given timeframe.
  • Role play/mock meeting – In this exercise, each individual is given a role in, for example, a mock meeting with a client and must complete their objectives in the role and group. Law firms are looking for candidates who are able to showcase their understanding on what clients are looking for and the ways a law firm operates. Although firms do not expect candidates to have the right answers, being able to demonstrate this and identify key elements is impressive for a law firm.
  • Problem-solving/discussion exercise – Candidates will be given a scenario that may take the form of a hypothetical business problem and will be expected to discuss how to use resources to find a solution. Rather than looking for right or wrong answers, assessors will generally be more interested in seeing how you collaborate with other individuals and exercise interpersonal skills, leadership skills and communication skills.

Individual Exercises

There are a range of individual exercises assessing various skills which law firms use in assessment centres.

  • Written exercises – These are popular assessments which test your written communication. You may be asked to draft a letter to a client, which is a very common exercise, or another task such as write a report summarising information. Assessors generally look for concise writing, precise spelling and grammar, strong attention to detail, and good time-management skills and you will be given a time-frame to complete this task.
  • Presentation – Candidates may be given a brief in advance, or it may be something that you are given on the day with limited time to prepare. Law firms are testing your ability to apply the information you have been given, your ability to verbally communicate with concision, clarity and confidence delivery. This is a common method of assessing a candidate’s ability to deliver information verbally in a logical manner.
  • Psychometric tests – Psychometric tests are popular assessment methods during the application process. It can be the second stage of the process after you submit your application form, or you could be assessed during a later time such as in an assessment centre. A popular psychometric test is the Watson Glaser test which assesses your ability to draw logical conclusions and make accurate assumptions.
  • Interviews – Candidates can experience a range of different interviews during an assessment centre including competency, behavioural or situation-based. Competency-based interviews assess key competencies which involve skills such as teamwork, communication, attention to detail, your ability to overcome adversity, etc.
    • Behavioural-based interviews assess your behaviours in a law firm setting and you’ll usually be asked to provide examples from your previous employment or work experiences during which you experienced these specific situations. Example questions include, ‘tell me about a time you disagreed with a colleague,’ ‘tell me about a time you needed to get information from someone who wasn’t response. What did you do?’
    • Situation-based interviews are similar to behavioural-based ones. These types of interviews require individuals to answer specific questions on how they would deal with certain circumstances at their job. Candidates are required to assess a situation and provide solutions on how they would handle this. Again, you would be expected to draw from your previous work experiences and employment.
  • Networking lunch – During the assessment centre you may also experience a ‘networking lunch’ with peers who are also being assessed, current trainees, the graduate recruitment team as well as lawyers of the firm. Although this is an informal element of the day, you may still be assessed so being respectful, speaking to people and asking relevant questions will put you in a positive light.

Tips for Group Exercises

Firms generally look for strong communication, collaboration, commercial awareness and proactiveness during group exercises. Below are some tips in greater detail for group exercises during assessment centres.

  • Take the initiative – actively volunteer for roles within the team such as being the note-take, timekeeper, chairperson.
  • Showcase strong teamwork and collaboration skills by acknowledging team members by their names, listening attentively to their ideas, encouraging quieter members to get involved.
  • Contribute at least five useful points to the team discussion sparingly – don’t dominate the discussion and state your points too quickly as it could demonstrate weak collaboration skills.
  • Focus on the core competencies that the firm is looking for. If your task is a commercial scenario, consider the business needs of your client to display commercial awareness.
  • Try not to be distracted by the assessors – maintain focus on the team discussion which will allow you to be yourself and act naturally.

Tips for Individual Exercises

The skills that law firms look for during individual exercises vary according to the assessment set.


  • For behavioural-based, situation-based and competency-based interviews, in your answers you will usually be required to draw from past employment and work experiences. All experiences are relevant as you would have displayed skills during them, so do not shy away from discussing experiences that you may think are not relevant. A structure many law firms want to see in your answers is the STAR method which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Another common structure is the CAR method: Context, Action, Result.
  • Be sure to research the law firm in great depth to demonstrate your knowledge of the firm – know their practice areas, the sectors they specialise in, recent deals they’ve completed, their key clients, their locations and international presence (if relevant), pro bono work, diversity & inclusion initiatives.
  • In your answers, be specific, concise, provide adequate information and try not to ramble – using the STAR or CAR method should help you to be concise. Placing more emphasis on the ‘action’ element of the structure should ideally be the longest part of your answer as this is where you demonstrate your skills.
  • Don’t forget to prepare some questions to ask at the end of the interview – this is your chance to get to know the firm and to emphasise your motivation.

Written Exercises

  • Written assessments are predominantly designed to test your ability to analyse information, use clear and logically thinking, showcase your judgement and communicate yourself on paper.
  • You may be faced with a lot of information, which all may not be relevant. Therefore, being able to extract the relevant details of the information is crucial – strong attention to detail is required.
  • Simplifying it down for yourself by using common sense to think clearly and logically – for example, if you are faced with writing a letter to a client regarding whether or not they should proceed with a business proposal, using common sense by considering the positives and negatives and weighing these factors against each other should assist you with your advice.


  • Assessors generally look for good verbal communication, the ability to present information in an engaging manner, evidence of research and planning, ability to structure your thoughts using logic and organisation, and a confident attitude.
  • Ensure you have a logical structure for your presentation and use signposting so that your presentation is easy to follow.
  • Prepare by practicing your presentation thoroughly – go over it with a peer or contact your careers service to practice your presentation and receive feedback.
  • Know who your audience is so that you can tailor your presentation effectively and appropriately.
  • Showcase your time-management skills by ensuring your presentation stays within the time limit as some students tend to overrun.

Psychometric Tests

  • The best way to prepare for a psychometric test such as a Watson Glaser test is by understanding what the test is looking for. Recognise what each element of the test requires you to do and most importantly use only the information provided in the passages.
  • Practice, practice, practice these tests as much as possible!

By Chanpreet Manku