This question is going to come up in any interview, so you can’t avoid it – perhaps not in those exact words – but by the end of any interview, the interviewer is going to want to be convinced either way of whether you as a candidate have the right motivation / potential for the job / firm in question.
In my group sessions, we explore this – I ask for people in the audience to give their own answer to that question in front of the group, and really appreciate it when somebody volunteers. I then ask others to give their comments.
It’s not an easy one to answer, because (let’s be honest) many people choose jobs for what are probably the wrong reasons – milk round visits, money only or perception of parents’ expectations. The reason that I chose law was probably not much more logical than any of those reasons – a really fun internship at Clifford Chance.
I have been asked a few times for tips on how to answer this one; but as I have said in a previous post, this isn’t a question that someone else can answer for you. I don’t think that any interviewer is expecting you to have a “calling” to law as some people do for charity work or medicine; but they do want a credible story. All I would say is that commercial law firms expect candidates to understand that the job is an academic and a commercial one, with a focus on clients.
Other than that, you need to have your own well-practised credible answer ready – you are going to need it.