Sample Government Interview Questions Table of Contents

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Sample Government Interview Questions

Table of Contents

2012 Questions 32

Questions Pre-2011 33

2010 Questions 36

MISC Questions from Past 37

Government offices follow strict rules that ensure fairness and consistency in their interviewing and hiring practices; they are seeking students with a demonstrated commitment to working in the public sector, and who are interested in developing a substantive knowledge of one or more areas of law. Therefore, government interviews are often very different from law firm interviews; they are usually more substantive and much less “chatty.” Students often report that they appreciate the challenge and focus of government interviews, but they find it helpful to know in advance the types of questions that may be asked. We hope that this document may help you prepare for interviews with government offices.
The questions below have been supplied by Canadian law students who have recently interviewed for summer or articling positions with government offices. The lists are meant to give you some idea of how to prepare for government interviews, and what to expect when you arrive. Of course, the offices may change their practices at any time! You should read through the entire document, even if you are only interviewing with one office.
Many helpful documents, including the Crown Policy Manual (essential reading for interviews with Crowns’ offices) can be found at

Note that when possible answers are suggested, these have been supplied by the students; the CLCDN has not verified that they are correct, complete or up-to-date!

General Tips

  1. All of the government offices I interviewed with were definitely looking for a genuine interest in the work of the particular office, as well as an interest in working in the public sector. Know why you want to work for the government rather than a private law firm.

  2. Ministry websites (not just the articling webpage) provide great information. Know the structure of the government office to which you have applied, the types of legal issues with which it deals, and whose interests the office represents.

  3. Know the office’s enabling legislation. Review all the important legislation in the relevant areas of law, and any new or interesting developments in the case law. Visit the legislative assembly website for information on new bills introduced.

  4. I was asked an ethical question in almost every interview.

Crown Attorney’s office (general)

  1. Why do you want to be a Crown?

  1. What is the role of the Crown Attorney? (i.e., not to seek a conviction, but to lay out all the relevant evidence capable of supporting guilt in a fair and professional way….see R v. Boucher (1954, SCC) and Crown Policy Manual).

  1. What qualities do you have that would make you a good Crown?

  2. Who taught you criminal law? (This seemed like a casual question, but was asked by both crowns who interviewed me, independently.)

  3. Discuss a recent SCC case and its impact on future of criminal law.

  1. Choose a recent decision of the Supreme Court, tell us the general facts of the case, and argue for the position of either the appellant or the respondent.

  1. What is a recent appeal court decision that you think will have an impact on criminal law, and what is that impact?

  2. What is a recent appeal court decision with which you disagree, and why?

  3. What is one provision of the Criminal Code that you think needs to be changed?

  4. What is mens rea? Actus reus?

  1. What is causation? What case is this from? (significant contributing cause – Nette)

  1. Discuss three different defences in criminal law (self-defence, duress, necessity, insanity…)

  1. When should the Crown proceed with a charge? (Test: when there’s a reasonable prospect of conviction and its in the public interest to do so – crown policy manual) When is it not in the public interest? (e.g., 70 year-old crippled man with no criminal record who’s been charged w/ a minor offence such as theft under)

  1. What is the difference b/w 1st and 2nd degree murder? (1st deg murder is listed in s.231(1-6) – all murder that isn’t 1st deg murder is 2nd deg murder (s.231(7))

  1. What is the difference in punishment for the actual offender and someone convicted of aiding and abetting the actual offender? (nothing, s.21 of CC)

  1. How would you prepare a child witness for trial? (see crown policy manual)

  2. What are some of the things you have to think about when you have a child witness? (s.715.1 – getting evidence in through video, s.486 – testifying behind screen, closed circuit TV, …, s.16 of Canada Evidence Act and competence, Khan applications if child is unable to testify…)

  1. What are the criteria for pre-trial custody/bail? (primary, secondary and tertiary grounds - see s.515(10) and crown policy manual)

  1. Who is a person in authority for the purposes of confessions?

  1. What is a KGB application ? (read R v. KGB). How would you go about initiating one? (have to do s.9(2) of Canada evidence act first). How has this test been modified to allow for other types of statements (see R v. F(JU))?

  1. What is a Corbett application? (See R v. Corbett – when defence applies to have accused’s criminal record excluded from the trial – application is made at the end of the crown’s case).

  1. What is “colour of right”? Mistake of fact? Mistake of law?

  1. What is the test for committal to trial at end of preliminary inquiry? (If there’s sufficient evidence upon which a jury, acting reasonably, could convict – Sheppard v. USA, R v. Arcuri)

  1. You're a Crown Attorney prosecuting the sexual assault of a blind woman.  Because she is blind, identity is a major issue. You and defence counsel have worked out a plea in which the accused will plea to simple assault and get a non-custodial sentence. On the way to court, you pass by the accused speaking to a friend and overhear him say "All I have to do is plea to assault and I'll get away with raping her! I don't have to do jail or anything!" Then once you get to court and open your file, you find a report from a police officer that nobody has yet seen that says that on one prior occasion, the complainant of this case had made a false allegation of sexual assault against somebody else. What do you do with this new information?

  2. An hour before the sexual assault charge you are prosecuting, you overhear the complainant speaking on her phone, saying that she made up the charges to get back at the accused for something he had done. What do you do? (You have prepared for this trial for months and the judge has previously ruled that there can be no further adjournments.)

  1. crown: Downtown 2010 Questions

  1. Question regarding bail and how to know whether it should be granted (Charter and case law)

  2. Question describing plea negotiations: Negotiations take place, deal was not yet accepted as the accused went to consult his lawyer, Crown finds new, strong evidence against the accused in the meantime – what do you do as a Crown when the accused decides to now accept the deal?

  3. Scenario where a police officer attempts to give the Crown tips on how to treat witnesses

  4. Disclosure and Stinchcombe question, who discloses what, when, why

  5. Why are you the very best candidate for this position?

  6. What is mens rea?

  7. What is the burden of proof and who is it on? Does it shift, if so, when?

  8. Name and describe 3 defences

  9. Describe a recent SCC case which will have an impact on criminal law

  10. What useful skills do you have that would be beneficial to us?

  1. crown: Downtown

  1. What does a Crown Attorney do?

  1. Tell us about yourself, your skills, and why you want to work for the Downtown Crown Attorney, and how does this factor into your long term career goals?

  2. I had to answer a series of oral substantive questions pertaining to the rules of evidence.

  3. You are the Crown on a domestic assault case. A few days before the trial, the complainant tells you that she will not testify and wants to reunite with the Accused. What do you do? What are three issues that you will need to deal with?

  1. Police are performing a patrol in and around a school. They see a man walking down the sidewalk. When the man sees the patrol, he flees. As he flees, he throws an object into the bushes. One officer pursues the man, as the other goes to retrieve the object thrown into the bushes. The object turns out to be a firearm. The officers run a CPIC search on the man. He is on probation for various drug offences, and a term of his probation requires that he not be in possession of a firearm. He is charged with possession of a firearm. As the Crown on the case, what kind of sentence would you pursue?

Summering Hypotheticals from fall 2011:
The first one involved a KGB application.

The second one is the same judge situation set out in the document online, with the out of town judge’s son.

Important note: I noticed that all the substantive questions came out to a total value of 25 points. Then there was a hypothetical worth 20 points. Then the description of an SCC case was worth 15 points. Then another hypothetical worth 10 points. The upshot of this is that spotting the issues and doing the hypotheticals well was worth more than the substantive questions.

  1. crown: north york 2010 Questions

  1. Question regarding disclosure and Stinchcombe ruling – who has to disclose what/when/why

  2. Policy Manual question: What happens if you disagree with something being illegal and you are required to prosecute it?

  3. Describe a recent SCC case which changes criminal law

  4. What Charter section deals with being tried within a reasonable time? How is this application made? What is an appropriate remedy for a violation of the section? What would the Crown do to oppose it?

  5. Fact pattern where a woman wants to lay an information against her neighbour – had to know requirements and standards for laying an information against someone

  6. Written question – Given 15 minutes to write about why you want to work at the Crown

  1. crown: north york

  1. Name three differences between a summary and indictable offence.

  2. What is the significance of s. 11(b) of the Charter? Name the three leading cases that discuss this issue.

  3. Describe the significance of various Criminal Code sections.

  4. What would you do if you were asked to prosecute an offence which you didn't feel should be an offence (e.g., marijuana possession)?

  5. What would you do if a defence witness, who was in the middle of examination when the trial was adjourned for the day, contacted you with a question? What is the leading case on this?

  6. What is the difference between the role of a Crown Attorney and that of a defence lawyer?

  7. Situational question regarding a "pre-enquete" hearing in a criminal harassment case - what factors would be brought before a JP to establish a prima facie case in this situation? Do you think a case can be established?

  1. crown: brampton

  1. What did you do to prepare for this interview?

  2. What do you see your future relationship with the Crown's office to be?

  3. What do you know about the Brampton court?

  4. Will you have a car to access the various buildings you will have to attend?

  5. What is the nature of the relationship between the Crown and the police?

  6. What is the nature of the relationship between the Crown and the defence attorney?

  7. What is the nature of the relationship between the Crown and the judiciary?

  8. How would you go about preparing to prosecute several POA offences?

  9. Would you have any difficulty taking direction from the office support staff?

  10. What's the difference between absolute liability offences and strict liability offences (supported with examples of each)?

  11. What applicable experiences and courses have you taken, and what applicable statutes are you aware of?

  12. How would you handle a personality conflict with someone working in the office?

  13. What part of criminal law relates to remedies?

  1. crown: newmarket

  1. What do you hope to gain from a summer position with our office?

  1. What is the most significant experience you've had in the area of criminal law thus far?

  1. Do you plan to do any defence work in the future? (They were quick to note that it's okay to say yes)

  1. How would you go about writing a legal memo?

  1. Discuss a recent Supreme Court case that has affected the law on hearsay or on police powers.

  1. Discuss a recent appellate court case that will have an impact on criminal law (they told me afterwards that instead of this they used to ask for the applicant's thoughts on the Mann decisions (i.e., protective pat downs during investigative detention), but too many students couldn't remember the case, so they changed the question)

  1. Hypothetical question: You come into work and there are the following 4 things waiting for you.  How do you go about handling them, and in what order?

    1. A Crown asks you to do some research on a sentencing issue for her case the next day;

    2. You have to review several HTA prosecutions you will be doing the next day;

    3. You are asked to call 4 lawyers to see if a jury trial is still scheduled for the following week; and

    4. You are working in a Crown office library with a phone, computer, research materials, and case files and a Crown asks to borrow the library to interview a witness.

  1. crown: whitby

  1. I was given a fact scenario regarding an assault, and asked to give the sequence of steps the Crown would take.

  2. What information must the Crown put before the courts regardless of the charge? (identification and jurisdiction)

  3. What is the role of a Crown Attorney?

  1. crown: Etobicoke & Scarborough

Summering Questions from Fall 2011:

  1. Who has the burden of proof in a criminal trial?

  2. What is Mens Rea?

  3. What is the Confession Rule? Who is a person in authority?

  4. What is the test for causation, and what case does it come from?

  5. What are the grounds for denying bail?

  6. What is a hybrid offence, and give an example?

  7. Name three (3) defenses and discuss?

  8. What is the difference in intent between 1st and 2nd degree murder? (This one the interviewer admitted was a little confusing, it basically the question became what is the difference between 1st and 2nd degree murder)

  9. Name recent SCC decision, discuss, and do you agree or disagree with it?

  10. What part of the Criminal Code would you change and why?

  11. Why do you want to be a Crown Attorney?

  12. What is the role of the Crown Attorney?

Summering Hypothetical from Fall 2011:

You are an Assistant Crown Attorney working on a very serious case of Aggravated Sexual Assault. The allegation is that the accused, David Heathcliff, raped a blind woman, Ms. Catherine Earnshaw, in her bedroom after breaking into her house. There is evidence that the person who raped the victim wore a condom with the result that there is no DNA evidence which might incriminate the accused. You have another difficulty: because of the victim’s inability to see, she is unable to identify her assailant. As a result of these problems, you have arranged a plea bargain with defence counsel so that the accused pleads to the offence of simple assault with a joint submission for a non custodial sentence.

As you are walking down the hallways to the courtroom, you pass Heathcliff who is talking excitedly to a companion. You hear him say, “That’s right. I’m going to get away with raping her. In fact, all I’m going to have to plead to is a simple Assault and not have any jail time to worry about. I’m having a laugh…!”
When you get into the courtroom, you open the file and a memo that you have not seen before falls into your lap. The memo is from an officer who informs you that he has found out that in another case, Ms. Earnshaw made a false complaint to the police, which resulted in another, accused being arrested. That other accused was later released and the charges dropped.
What, if anything do you do with this new information?
MISC Scenario questions from pre-2011:

  1. A woman is sexually assaulted in a dark, secluded park one night. The next day, she reports the incident to the police, takes them to the scene of the crime and points to a condom on the ground identifying it as the condom used by her attacker. The woman saw her attacker clearly that night and is able to pick him out of a line up. You are the Crown on the case, and defence counsel for the accused comes to you to make the following bargain: the accused will voluntarily supply a sample of his semen to police; however, if his semen does not match that on the condom, then the Crown will drop the charges. 

  1. Do you, as the Crown, make the bargain?

  1. You make the bargain. The semen does not match and you drop the charges. Later, a co-worker of the accused overhears him bragging about how he sexually assaulted the complainant. What do you do, given the fact that you made the bargain?

  1. You are the Crown on a case where the accused is the son of a judge in another district. Examinations, cross and closings are finished, and the judge on the case reserves his decision until after lunch. You go to a restaurant for lunch, and see the judge whispering at a table with the accused's father (the judge from out-of-town). The accused's father eventually makes to leave, and you hear the judge on the case say, "Don't worry, everything will be OK." What do you do?

  1. What did you do to prepare for this interview?

  1. crown: kenora

    1. Describe how the decision in Gladue has affected the way the courts deal with Aboriginal defendants.
      What is the catchment area for this office?

    2. What is the role of the Crown Attorney?

    3. How do you feel about flying in little airplanes?

  1. crown: kingston

  1. What do you think of Professor X?

  2. Name one criminal court decision with which you disagree and explain why.

  3. What is the relevance of the Stinchcombe decision for Crown Attorneys?

  1. crown: kingston (Articling Questions)

If asked, how would other people describe you?

  1. Why do you want to be a Crown?

  2. Hypotheticals:

    • A man pulled over by the cops, impaired driving suspected, took him down to the station to give him a breathalyzer. You are asked to prepare a charter response – what issues does the scenario raise and how would you go about preparing the Charter response?

      • Would you focus on researching common law or statute, or both?

    • Interviewers gave me a hypothetical where I had to prioritize different tasks, such as which would you do first – draft an urgent memo, help out the secretary or photocopy materials for another lawyer which he needs in a week.

  1. How do you feel about working overtime?

  1. crown: London (Summer Questions)

  1. Why did I want to work for the London Crown specifically, and not another crown or another firm?

  1. What is the role of the crown?

  1. The crown needs to have a lot of confidentiality and discretion- what does this mean? (I gave a more Abstract/"big picture" answer- they followed up by asking what it means in a practical sense)

  1. Describe a situation where I had a difficult situation/problem at work and how did I deal with it.

  1. What is mens rea and actus reus? Are there different types of mens rea?

  2. (I had an answer for this but they told me that they knew I was in first year and likely hadn't taken this yet, so just to try my best)

  1. What are 3 skills or attributes that i have that I think would be beneficial working for the Crown?

  1. What is my favourite movie?

  1. crown: Milton (Articling Questions)

  1. How did you prepare for this interview?

  1. What would you do if you had a personality conflict with someone from this office?

  2. How do you feel about working overtime?

  3. Say you had to handle all cases in court on a given day. How would you handle them?

    1. Hypothetical question – most serious requiring imminent action first

  4. Suppose you have given the support staff a file on which something had to be done. The staff returns the file with a delay and there are many mistakes. What do you do?

  5. What is the remedy section of the Charter?

    1. S.24(2), be prepared to talk about cases and applicable tests

  6. Explain how s.24(2) operates.

  7. What does s.8 of the Charter relate to?

  8. What does s.10 of the Charter relate to?

  9. What do you know about our office and why do you want to work here?

  10. What is the relationship between the Crown and the victim?

  11. What is the relationship between the Crown and the police?

  12. What is the relationship between Crown and Defence?

  13. What is the relationship between Crown and Judiciary?

  14. How do you see your relationship with the Milton Crown Office?

  15. Why do you want to be a Crown?

  16. What skills do you think are essential for a good Crown?

  17. What is the one most relevant experience that will help you as a Crown?

  18. What relevant courses have you taken and why do you consider them relevant?

    1. Why haven’t you taken the Correctional law project?

  19. The police had interviewed witnesses and taken notes, another officer took measurements. What should the police do with these documents, if anything, and when?

    1. What if documents get lost?

      1. Answer  police’s duty to disclose in a timely manner, the Stinchcombe decision; “will say” notes if documents get lost

  20. What is the Crown’s duty to witnesses who have been subpoenaed

  21. What is the role of the Crown

  22. Difference between Strict and Absolute liability, provide examples of each

  23. Difference between Summary and Indictable offences

  1. crown: Ottawa

Summering questions from Fall 2011:

  1. Why do you want to be a Crown Attorney?

  2. What is the role of the Crown Attorney?

  3. What is the relationship of the Crown Attorney with the defence bar?

  4. What is the relationship of the Crown Attorney with police?

  5. Describe the three most important qualities that you think are necessary for a crown attorney, put them in order of importance, and explain your choices?

  6. Name two (2) Charter Applications (possible charter challenges), what section of the Charter they are from, and explain the basics? (i.e., 11(b): right to be tried with a reasonable time- what are the important cases that deal with this and what do they say)

  7. Describe a recent SCC case, do you agree or disagree?

  8. Tell us something interesting about yourself? (This one looked like it was actually worth a bit, first time I saw a question like this)

  1. crown: Ottawa (Articling)

  1. Why do you want to be a Crown Attorney?

  1. Why do you want to work for the Ottawa Crown Attorney’s office in particular?

  1. What is the role of the Crown in relation to:

    1. The police

    2. Victims of crime

    3. Defence counsel

  1. What are 3 Charter challenges an accused person may bring in a criminal proceeding?

  1. What is hearsay? What is / are the leading cases?

  1. You have been asked by senior counsel to research a specific issue and the work is due in a few days. What resources do you use and where do you start?

  1. You have been assigned to conduct an assault trial, which takes place in a week. What do you do to prepare?

  1. On the day of trial, the investigating officer tells you that a certain witness is missing and, as a result, you are unable to prove a material element of the offence.

    1. What do you do?

    2. Do you share this information with defence counsel?

    3. The accused says he wants to plead guilty. Do you accept his plea?

  1. The day of a sexual assault trial, the victim tells you she doesn’t want to testify.

    1. What do you do?

    2. What if she told you she lied to the police and her initial statement was false?

  1. A 47-year-old single mother has been convicted of stealing $200 worth of merchandise from her employer.

    1. What is the appropriate sentence?

    2. What factors would you take into account?

  1. crown: Peel Region (Articling)

  1. Go through sections 7 to 11 of the Charter from memory

  2. What is an absolute liability offence? Give an example from a case.

  3. What is a strict liability offence and what mens rea does it require? Example from a case.

  4. Difference between criminal offences and regulatory offences, and the leading case on this.

  5. Who taught you criminal law?

  6. What were your marks in Criminal Law (1L) and Evidence?

  7. Describe a paper you wrote recently

  8. Asked to compare right to counsel protections in Canada vs. the USA since I mentioned it in my paper (i.e., Miranda rights vs. Sinclair ruling, Singh case, etc.)

  9. What is the leading case on s.9 of the Charter? (Describe)

  10. What is the leading case on s.10b of the Charter? (Describe)

  11. What do you like to do outside of work and law/school?

  12. Why do you want to work at the Crown?

Ethical Questions:

You are handling a sexual assault case (involving children). In the meantime your neighbour hires the accused as a babysitter for their children. What do you do?!

Written Question:

You have 30 minutes to write 300-400 words on the role of the Crown in interacting with police, defence counsel, and the judiciary.

Crown law office (criminal)

  1. 2011 Questions (Summer)

Three hypotheticals. Each of which was from an important recent SCC or Ont CA case.

    1. Basically the exact fact situation of R v JA (SCC, 2011)

    2. A s. 8 search and seizure hypothetical to do with child pornography on computers and how it was found. Similar to R v Cole (Ont CA, 2010) but there were variations on what the issues were.

    3. Hypothetical to do with the inference of guilt from the accused not testifying.

  1. 2010 Questions (Summer)

  1. Situational question regarding a sexual assault trial - the complainant has shown up for trial wearing a hijab, which she did not wear to the preliminary hearing. What factors should be considered? Would you argue that she should be forced to remove it or be allowed to keep it on?

  2. You have been asked to write an opinion as to whether a sentence appeal in an impaired driving case should be taken on. What factual information would you require? What legal and policy factors should be taken into account?  Should public outcry and extensive media coverage on this issue influence your decision?

  1. 2009 Questions (Articling)

  1. Tell us about a recent case that has changed the law?

    1. Many sub-questions on the case I talked about such as:

      1. Do you prefer the state of the law (on the given issue) prior to the case or after it?

      2. Why do you disagree with the majority?

  2. Why do you want to work here?

  3. Hypotheticals

    1. Man charged with impaired driving and causing death of a bicyclist. Friend of the bicyclists first stated that he saw the bicyclist swerve in the direction of the driver and that the bicyclist was driving erratically. Later on, however, the witness testifies he cannot remember anything about the incident.

      1. What do you do?

      2. Do you proceed with the case?

        1. Why?

      3. What steps do you take to proceed with the case?

      4. Suppose the prior statement is ruled inadmissible. What next?

    2. You have been asked to assist a Crown with a sexual assault appeal. The Crown proposed a range of 5-7 years custodial sentence. The accused is appealing the sentence.

      1. Do you agree with the Crown’s proposed sentence? Why?

      2. Describe the steps you will take to either initiate or cease the appeal.

    3. You have been assigned to work on an inmate appeal. As you are reading the court transcript, you find yourself strongly disagreeing with the judge’s reasons for the conviction, and feel there wasn’t sufficient evidence to sustain the conviction.

      1. What do you do?

      2. Why would you proceed / end the appeal?

      3. What steps would you take to proceed with or end the appeal?

  1. 2008 Questions

Discuss a recent SCC case

- they will ask you many questions about this case so come prepared

- know what the majority, minority, and/or dissent said

- know if you agree with one side or the other

Talk about your litigation experience

moots are great to talk about - make sure you know your moot inside and out

they may ask you which side you agree with - focus on the wholes in their arguments rather than choosing sides - it shows you have a depth of understanding about all the different viewpoints
Why do you want to do appellate work?

remember this is an appellate not a trial office

you can focus on your interest in Charter issues as many appeals deal with Charter rights etc.
Why do you want to be a prosecutor and not a defense attorney?

I focused on the variety of interesting cases, the opportunity to work on appeals (as a defense attorney you don't get to do appeals very often when you're starting out)

also, talk about getting a depth of experience, having a set program, managing your own case files
Why did you choose certain courses?

they are impressed by moots, appellate/trial advocacy, evidence, criminal procedure, clinical litigation practice

focus on these courses and take this opportunity to bring up something interesting you are doing/talking about in one of these courses
They asked questions about your resume

if you say you've done something, make sure you have and that you can elaborate on that. I talked about working on an HIV transmission case in Hamilton - they expected me to know the recent decisions/trials that were going on right now in Hamilton that dealt with HIV transmission.


Given 2 hypothetical situations and asked what I would do. 

First situation was about not agreeing with counsel's legal opinion right before a trial.  What would I do? 

Second situation was about a court of appeal case where the accused was convicted at trial but wasn't represented by legal counsel and potential issues of being unlawfully detained.  What would I do?

  1. 2007 Questions

Why don't you want to work on Bay Street? What interests you about criminal law?

Why are you interested in working at this particular office?
Do you also have an interest in working as a defence counsel? Is it important to work for both defence and the Crown in order to practice criminal law well?

Discuss a recent SCC decision in criminal law.

Name a recent case that has radically altered criminal law.
What area of the criminal law do you think requires improvement?
What would you do if you were reviewing the defence's factum and realized that counsel had missed two substantially important grounds for appeal in the judge's reasoning?
What would you do if the complainant in a sexual assault trial told you right before trial that she had taped conversations she'd had with the accused? I was also asked some procedural questions about unreasonable delay. Modification: What would you do if the complainant in a sexual assault trial told you right before trial that she had taped conversations she'd had with the accused, that she did not have the tape on her, and that several adjournments had already been consented to and the judge was not likely to give you another one?
Describe mens rea and actus reus and compare the two.
Talk about a challenging experience.
Crown law office (civil)

  1. first panel

  1. What do you know about our office and the work we do?

  1. Why are you interested in working in the public law area?

  1. What kind of research skills do you have?

  1. What courses are you taking next term?

  1. Tell us about a situation in which you have been successful as an individual and another situation in which you succeeded as a team player?

  1. What kind of litigation experience do you have?

  1. Tell us about a non-legal experience.

  1. If a client approaches you and the case involves some moral issues which are not necessarily against the Code of Conduct, what do you do?

  1. If you are busy and you are asked to help with a case in which you are interested and would like to get involved, what do you do?

  1. Do you have any questions for us?

  1. second panel

Friendly interview. However, probing questions asked about specific experiences listed in the résumé. Discussion of masters thesis. Questions about my background. Testing of French knowledge and other languages listed on my résumé (i.e., Italian).

  1. MIScellaneous Information

From 2009 law student
CLOC specifically looks for a few things in their candidates:
--advocacy/mooting experience (CLOC does all of Ontario's litigation, so litigation interest is a must)
--Legal Aid/Legal Clinic experience is highly regarded by the office

Aside from the above, they like to see that you're actually interested in litigation.  They'll check your 2nd year course selections as well as your planned 3rd year courses.  Other than that, I'd encourage interviewers to seriously consider whether working in the government is right for you-- it's not for everyone.  In my opinion, CLOC is very good at picking out candidates who have a genuine interest in working in government and particularly litigation.  If that matches the students' interest, then I think it will come out quite clearly in the interview.

Also, CLOC (in past years) has not asked any substantive questions.  They also didn't ask me to pick a case and to provide an opinion on it.  But their interviews do look for very specific things as per above.

  1. MIScellaneous Questions from 2009

  • Why do you want to work for CLOC?

  • Tell us what you would do if you found you had a ton of things to do and a very tight deadline.

  • A coworker is not working as hard as the other students in the office, but is very popular in the office because of his or her charisma (or other qualities). How would you address the problem?

  • Can you tell us about the kind of work CLOC does? Any recent cases CLOC has been involved with? Where did you get this information?

  • If you had to research the interpretation of a particular statute, say s.X of the Highway Traffic Act, how would you do that? (they didn’t seem to like my answer including Westlaw/Quicklaw – have an alternative ready).

  • Do you like litigation? What kind of litigation experience do you have?

  • Why do you want to work for OPS instead of some other public service? (could have been because I’m from Alberta).

  • What skills can you bring to CLOC that would be useful or relevant?

  • What is your proficiency in French?

Civil Remedies for illicit Activities office (CRIA)

Provided below are the unique questions that were asked on the CRIA interview. Most of the questions were typical MAG questions.

  1. What is the role of the Attorney General?

  2. Do you have any experience dealing with public law?

Specific CRIA questions in relation to the Civil Remedies Act, were: 

1) Police stopped C's vehicle and C was arrested for breach of recognizance — Police found in vehicle $29,020 in cash, light socket, light ballast and exhaust fan, items which are commonly used in indoor marijuana operations — Items smelled strongly of marijuana — C was not charged with any drug-related offence. 

Discuss how you would go about conducting a forfeiture claim. 

I had read AG v Chatterjee, from which these facts were borrowed, and cited it in my response. The answer is contained within the case. 

2) Discuss the constitutional validity of the Civil Remedies Act. 

Again, this was canvassed by the Ontario Court of Appeal in AG v Chatterjee. I went ahead and conducted a pith and substance analysis, which I had thankfully memorized.

The accused unsuccessfully appealed. The appellate court found that the trial judge was correct in refusing the accused standing to challenge certain parts of the Act and that the challenged provisions were not necessary to the resolution of the case, part of the Act was not engaged on the facts of the case, and that refusal of standing did not have the effect of immunizing the challenged provisions. The appellate court agreed with the judge's assessment of the pith and substance of the Act and could not find there was any basis on record to support the submission that the Act was a colourable attempt to legislate in relation to criminal law. The true purpose of the Act was not to punish offenders. The Court also found that forfeiture of ill-gotten gains should not be classified as falling exclusively within federal powers. The Act dealt with matters that all fell within the province's power to legislate in relation to property and civil rights in the province or in relation to matters of a merely local or private nature. While the matter of proceeds of crime had a federal criminal law aspect, it did not constitute a watertight compartment into which provincial legislation could not intrude. The proceedings under the Act were not criminal in nature and did not result in true penal consequences. The accused appealed.

CLOC - Aboriginal Law Summer Program

  1. Name the case you think is most important in the history of Aboriginal rights.

  2. What programs/issues have you worked on dealing with Aboriginal issues?

  3. What do you think is the most significant issues facing the ministry today?

  4. How would you change the way the past policies have dealt with Aboriginal issues?

Constitutional law branch

  1. 2010 Questions

  1. Why public sector?

  2. Why Constitutional Law Branch? Do you want to litigate?

  3. What does the CLB do?

  4. Discuss your research and your litigation experience

  5. What non-law related experience do you have that would be helpful in the job

  6. What are 3 characteristics that you think are most important for a student working for the CLB?

  7. What work/courses have you taken that would be relevant to this job (include any human rights related classes you have taken)

  8. What would you do if you were given a case to work on that you disagree with (the example they gave me was that the policy was very anti-feminist and I had to defend this policy).

  9. Talk about a case/series of cases related to a constitutional law issue. (Note: they will ask follow-up questions, both to see your knowledge of the case and issue, and to see your opinions on the broader policy.)

  10. What is your proficiency in French (can you argue a case in French? Can you read and translate a case in French? Not a requirement, but a bonus)

  1. MISC Questions from Past

Make sure you arrive at least ten minutes early as you will need to check in with security, call up to the branch office and have someone come down to meet you and escort you to the branch.
I was interviewed by two lawyers in a boardroom. They gave me an overview of the work of the office: the lawyers intervene in cases before the Supreme Court or various provincial Courts of Appeal, write legal opinions for other branches and assist with the drafting of some legislation. All lawyers at the branch are expected to do some of each type of work (i.e., there are no lawyers who deal with litigation exclusively and all lawyers take part in some litigation). The main topic areas are federal-provincial relations, the Charter, and Aboriginal law.
I was asked a series of questions, and allowed about 10 minutes at the end to ask questions (have some prepared!)

  1. Why are you interested in working at the Constitutional Law Branch?

  1. What courses have you taken that will prepare you (or are related) to the work you would be doing here? HINT: Be prepared to answer questions about specific courses on your transcript.

  1. What do you think will be most challenging about your experience here?

HINT: This is the “what are your weaknesses?” question reworded. Your answer should address a challenge you are willing and able to meet and demonstrate your ability to meet it.

  1. Discuss a specific area of constitutional law including a leading case in that area.

    1. How was the case decided?

    2. What was good and bad about the decision?

    3. What do you think about the legal test that was applied?

    4. What, if anything, needs to be addressed in this area of law?

HINT: Pick an area in advance, and know it well. They will ask follow-up questions and challenge you to get at the details of the issue. I cited the Same Sex Marriage Reference. In addition to the questions above, they wanted to know what I thought was significant about it being a Reference as opposed to allowing a specific case to go to the Supreme Court, and whether I thought it was good or bad that the legislature had pursued this course of action. I was then asked what I thought about the Section 15 test (because that was the area of constitutional law I had identified). I spoke mainly about the “enumerated and analogous grounds” aspect of the test, and had one lawyer point out that my personal opinion was different from some scholars in the area. I did not readily have the name of a scholar in the area that argued in favour of my view. So you see, you need to know your stuff.

  1. Discuss your extracurricular activities and how they relate to the work you would be doing. HINT: be familiar with all extracurricular experiences listed on your resume as they will ask you specific questions. Everything on your resume is fair game.

  1. What (if any) interest do you have in litigation and what experience do you have in this area?

  1. How well do you read/write/speak French? (French is not a requirement; it is simply helpful.)

ministry of community and social services

  1. I was given a written case study to complete – I was left alone for 20 minutes to answer 2 questions. The first was a question of prioritizing tasks (you come into the office and have a bunch of new requests to do work, and you already have things scheduled: i.e., be aware of deadlines, prior commitments, check with supervisor for guidance, etc.). The second question was an ethics question.

  2. Why do you want to work in the public sector?

  3. What legislation governs the work of the ministry?

  1. Tell me about a current issue in the news that is relevant to this ministry.

ministry of community Safety and Correctional Services
For this interview, I was given the questions 15 minutes before the interview began. Best to arrive right on time to take advantage of the full 15 minutes (though they will not give you any more than 15 minutes to read the questions if you arrive earlier). You can make notes on the pages and can take those notes into the interview and refer to them (though my interviewers did not tell me this until the end of the interview, so it may be worth while to ask).

  1. Tell us about 2 pieces of legislation that govern/are related to the ministry. Discuss their purpose, format, and content in as much detail as possible.

  2. What bodies/who governs the police?

  3. Mr Smith is an athlete. The police pulled him over for speeding and find drugs in his car. Mr Smith believes this may have been due to racial discrimination. What procedures/remedies are available to Mr Smith?

  4. You are assigned a legal memo to write, and the lawyer who assigned it is away and cannot be reached. The topic of the memo has recently gained media attention. The Commissioner has approached you and wants your memo. You think it is ready but it has not been approved by the lawyer. How do you proceed?

  5. Time management question: You are given 3 projects all in one morning. How do you deal with this?

  6. An indigenous group is claiming that discrimination occurred because they did not receive funding for their programs. They claim that according to the human rights legislation, they are entitled to “services” and have not been provided with such services. How would you go about determining the meaning of the term “services” as used in the legislation to determine if the funding claimed is/should be included? (this appeared to be the question assessing your research skills)

  7. Statutory interpretation question: I was given a page of regulations and a fact scenario. I was then asked questions based on the scenario. Specifically, the regulations outlined the duties of police officers to provide notes of an incident for the sake of an investigation. In the scenario the officer was asked to provide his notes. I was asked: a) is the officer required to provide the notes b) what are the timelines for providing the notes c) whether the officer had a right to counsel [all of the answers came from the regulations provided]

After completing the substantive questions, the interviewers put away their marking sheets, and asked me why I wanted to work for the Ministry of CSCS. The discussion then turned more informal and conversational and I was given time to ask questions.

court services
I was asked a series of seven questions, many of which were broken down into four parts (i.e., a, b, c, and d.)

  1. Describe the structure of the court system. Outline the relevant statutes.

  2. I was given a proposed legislative change and asked to comment.

  1. Talk about a recent initiative that relates to the work of the department.

  1. Why do you want to work in the public sector? Why court services in particular?

  1. Ethical question: You have several deadlines pending for different lawyers at the department. A student from another department in the Ministry calls you for help and she has a deadline to meet. What issues arise out of this situation? How do you deal with it?

  1. Comment on a long fact pattern re: high costs and long wait times for a resolution in the court system.  The AG wants you to research and propose broad policy initiatives to deal with the issue: (a) How would you go about researching? (b) What would you propose? (c) What would you adopt? They are not interested in the specific answers, but rather the rationale and reasoning behind your answers.

department of justice, toronto

  1. oci questions, 2004

  1. Give us the facts of a case decided by the Supreme Court. What does the case stand for? What was the split of the court? Who wrote the majority decision? Did this decision spur any legislative changes? (I think they were trying to get me to the point where I didn't know the answer so they could see how I would react.)

  2. What does this office do?

  1. oci questions, 2005

  1. Discuss the rule of law.

  2. Discuss morality and the law.

  3. Discuss the impact of increasing tuition on the practice of law.

  1. OCI QUESTIONS, 2008

  1. Give a time when you were in a difficult/stressful position and how did you handle this?

  2. What would make you a good litigator?

  3. One question was a bit different in that they wanted to know if I understood the difference between the DOJ and big firms (it's might be good to also insert why you prefer the DOJ or what you like about it that you might not receive from the other firms)

  4. Tell us about either a moot case or research/class case from the Supreme Court of Canada that is of interest to you. (I found I talked a lot about it and they didn't grill me on it because I had already mentioned all the main points and some issues at hand. I was prepared with the number of judges that agreed/disagreed as well. If the case relates to the DOJ's areas of focus it is probably better and keep in mind that the assoicates will know most of these kinds of cases)!

  5. Some questions specifically from my resume

  1. OCI QUESTIONS, 2008

  1. Why do you want to work with the DOJ?

  2. What relevant experience do you have that would be helpful to a position with the DOJ?

  3. What was your favourite course in first year?

  4. I see you did a first year moot. What was your moot about?

  5. Can you name a situation in which you experienced conflict and how did you resolve it?

  6. You said you wouldn't do something against your principles. How do you feel about litigating on something if it doesn't agree with your principles?

  1. OCI QUESTIONS, 2009

    1. What do you think is the greatest legal challenge facing the Government of Canada today?

    2. Do you think the courts have a role to play in meeting this challenge?

    3. Why do you want to work for government?

    4. What are three words you’d use to describe yourself?

    5. Why do you think that you would be a good candidate for our office?

    6. What do you hope to get from a summer experience at DOJ?

  1. initial part of the toronto interview (2 interviewers)

  1. Tell us a little about yourself (questions drawn from resume).

  2. Fact scenario about breach of confidentiality outside the office - how would you handle it?

  3. Take a side on a legal case relevant to the DOJ- explain the issues and argue from one of the positions in the case.

  4. Discuss some area of the law that needs improvement; how could it be improved?

  5. Describe your litigation experience.

  1. initial part of the toronto interview, 2008

  1. Describe a situation that you had where you were put on the spot or under pressure and how did you handle this?

  2. What would you do if you did not agree with a case that was given to you to work on?

  3. What would you do if an upper year associate gave you an additional assignment and you could not see yourself finishing it along with the other assignments you had in a timely fashion?

  4. Tell us about either a moot case or research/class case from the Supreme Court of Canada that is of interest to you. (Same procedure as for the OCI just use a different case).

  5. Questions about my resume and time to ask the DOJ members any questions I had at the time.

  1. second part of the interview (with more senior lawyers)

  1. Why do you want to work for the DOJ in Toronto?

  1. I was asked about my course choices.

  1. The rest of the questions were drawn from the conversation / my resume (what interests aside from law do you have?, etc.); they were aimed at encouraging discussion of issues facing DOJ. It’s a good idea to have read the newspaper and their website!

  1. second part of the interview, 2008

  1. Tell us about a Supreme Court Case where you disagreed with the majority's opinion. (This I wasn't prepared for but I used my OCI case and luckily talked about one aspect of it that they themselves weren't as familiar with at the time. It was a small part but knowing the cases well pays off in the end.)

  2. What would you do if three senior associates all gave you projects to have completed by the end of the week and you knew you could not finish them all?

  3. What would you do if you felt like you were doing more work on a project then your partner (or if you felt that you were picking up his/her slack)?

  1. MISC questions from 2008

Describe a time when you were busy and how you interacted with the people around you when you were busy.

What they wanted: that you could delegate time for each task and that you were

respectful of other people when you were busy – i.e., you called them in advance to set up a meeting to talk about some issue rather than barging into their office.

Describe a SCC case.
What they wanted: describe a case that matters to their office. It’s a good idea to come prepared with a case from the past couple months that the department of justice was involved in!! Also, it is a good idea to reference the case history, but make sure you know everything about those cases that you are citing within that cases history. For example, I discussed R. v. Kadhr and referenced R. v. Hape - I was asked about my viewpoints on the majority and dissent in Hape and asked what I thought about the decision in Hape (I was also asked about the DOJ's position in Hape).
How would you react to prosecuting a case that went against your own personal morals or viewpoints?
What they wanted: Mention that you are impartial - it's part of the job - your role is wholely separate from your moral viewpoints. I also mentioned that if it was so offensive to me that i didn't think i could prosecute it well that I would let my superior know.
Discuss a recent decision that you disagree with.
What they wanted: Not necessarily proving a case was decided wrong but identifying the contentious points and issues - showing that you understand that sometimes decisions are not clear.
What would you do if three lawyers gave you three different tasks and all asked for you to complete these tasks by the end of the week? You have reviewed your week and there is no way you can complete these tasks in the time given.
What they wanted: You would accept the task that was from your immediate superior (if you had one). You would notify those lawyers immediately that you would not be able to complete those tasks by the end of the week and ask what they want to do. I suggested that I would ask them if they wanted me to ask another student if they could work on their file - out of courtesy. It was important not to say that you would pass off the work to someone else.
Why do you want to work for the government?
Why do you want to work for the department of justice?

If you want to do prosecutions it's important to remember that the prosecutions are separate from the department of justice and that you won't get to work solely on prosecutions as a summer student. However, if you show a keen interest in prosecutions then feel free to mention that - but also say you're comfortable doing other research etc. as you will be required to do a bit of everything.

What kind of work environment do you see yourself working in in five years?
I said a collaborative work environment. Basically say whatever you feel but its important to stress that you don't mind working as a team as in government you will be assigned tasks etc. Also, if you want prosecutions then say you want to be in court. If you want to do research then say you do.
What about your personality makes you a good fit for the Department of Justice?

  1. MISC questions from in-Firm 2009

    1. Can you tell us about a recent Supreme Court of Canada case and whether you agreed or disagreed with it? Assume that we have no background knowledge of the case

    2. (Detailed followup questions on this case, such as “Didn’t the SCC find X in the case?” and “Did the plaintiff do Y, or did he just do Z?”  in my case, Mustapha, they asked if the SCC found negligence and also asked if the plaintiff actually drank the water or not)

    3. Which section of our office would you most like to work for?

    4. If you were involved in a drug prosecution, but heard tell that the police had collected the evidence improperly, what would you do?  Would you flag the problem even if the charges were going to be dropped?

    5. Tell us about a recent challenge you had to face and how you dealt with it.

  1. Ottawa DOJ Articling Interview

  1. First general questions, - name, where you are studying, what I was doing in Holland, etc - they had very thoroughly read my C.V. though, in comparison to some of my other interviews

  1. Then 20-minute presentation on a subject of relevance to the DOJ (I discussed Canada's approach to dealing with suspected international war criminals, and went through the different sections within the DOJ that have a role.)

  1. Then questions about my presentation - just interest type questions and probing my knowledge a bit more on the topic.

  1. They then informed me that they would ask their standard questions

  1. What does the DOJ do, and what is its mandate? - just wanting to see if we read the website, specifically  seeing if we knew about the dual mandate.

  1. How was the DOJ's mandate divided, do you think this is a good thing? - In 2006, they split the DOJ into the Ministry of Justice and created the Public Prosecution Service Canada, which they were wanting me to discuss generally.  *as of right now this information is not on the official DOJ website, but I found the PPSC website which lays it out pretty well.

  1. If the deputy minister called you at 6:00 on a friday and told you to start shredding some documents, what would you do? - I made specific reference to the Code and Values of Civil Servants and set out the entire procedure for reporting suspicious / questionable commands.

  1. They gave me a list of 5 different tasks that needed to be done and asked me to arrange them in the proper order of completing them - I asked the Judge I worked with about this questions (as she used to be a director of a section in the DOJ) and she said it is a standard DOJ question, where they don't care about the answer at all, just want a quick response that shows we can be organized.

  1. Give a recent initiative of the DOJ - again I just went to the website and found something under "news" and read into it. Why do you want to work for the DOJ in Toronto?

  1. I was asked about my course choices.

  1. The rest of the questions were drawn from the conversation / my resume (what interests aside from law do you have?, etc.); they were aimed at encouraging discussion of issues facing DOJ. It’s a good idea to have read the newspaper and their website!

ministry of the environment

  1. Describe the structure of the Ministry’s legal branch (3 teams of prosecutors, solicitors, hearings team).

  2. Which team’s work interests you most, and why?

  3. How have you demonstrated an interest in environmental law?

family responsibility office

  1. What legislation governs the office?

  1. What measures can the director take to enforce payment?

  1. Describe how you would research a legal issue.

  1. Why do you want to work for the Ontario government?

  1. Describe your advocacy experience.

  1. You are at lunch with another articling student and she starts speaking loudly about a current case, using the names of the parties. What do you do?

MISC Questions 2008

  1. What enforcement mechanisms does the director have to enforce support orders?

  2. Why do you want to work for the Ministry of Community and Social Services, specifically FRO?

  3. Favorite class, least favorite class and future classes.

  4. What volunteer/community experience do you have that you think would relate to working at FRO?

  5. Name the types of enforcement FRO employs under the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 2005.

  6. If counsel is going to court and you don't agree with their legal opinion - what do you do?

  7. What do you want to gain out of your summer experience at FRO?

ministry of health and long term care

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