This is another entry in our occasional series of tricky interview questions, and this one seems to crop up regularly: "If you weren't set on a career in law, what would you be doing?"
As a variation you might hear, "If you didn't need a job to survive, what would you be doing?"
As with many interview questions, there's more than one way to answer competently.
This question is trying to get at how well you understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Have you clearly researched and thought about why a legal career is for you? Does your "other" career use the same strengths, or are you going from one idealistic fantasy to another?
You might answer by setting out why you chose law in the first place: for example, prestige, job security, a steady income. If you weren't dead-set on becoming a lawyer, you might have considered accounting or medicine (which are also prestigious and secure professions). If your interests lie in crime prosecution or court practice, a career in law enforcement would be a viable alternative.
Another tack is to reveal something about yourself, some interest or passion that you would pursue: "I think my skills make me a good fit for commercial law, but my dream is to become a master mariner one day. If I couldn't be a lawyer, I think I would slowly start pursuing that dream, by joining the Navy."
If law is all you've ever wanted to do since you first laid eyes on Ally McBeal or Boston Legal, and you can't imagine doing anything else, say that. You'll need to show that you have a realistic grasp of the daily life of a lawyer, though.