..you discover that the other side have made a fatal error in their documents..."
Lots of firms (particularly large City firms) will ask you some variation of this question during your interview.
The gist of it is that you're stuck in the office late on a deal that's about to close and (probably while photocopying) notice a "fatal" error in one of the documents you're dealing with - that would put your client at an advantage. Maybe there's a '0' missing from a sale price somewhere, or a dodgy definition. Whatever it is, you're stuck in the office late, there's no-one else around, and the deal must close tomorrow. Your supervisor may also mysteriously be in Bermuda / the hospital / an all-night meeting. What do you do?
Tough, right? First off, it's worth mentioning that there's very, very little chance of this actually happening in practice. You may occasionally be in the office late by yourself, but when deals are hours away from closing the least you can expect is a supervisor available on his/her BlackBerry - more likely the whole team will still be in the office with you.
Nevertheless, you're being asked this dog of a question to simulate your ability to think independently and keep your priorities straight.
1. Don't be swayed by the fact that your client stands to benefit from the error. They negotiated a particular deal with the counter-party, and that's what they expected to see documented. At best, they won't hire your firm again if you fail to mention it. And worst, they'll be sued by the counter-party, and so will your firm. So doing nothing isn't a good option.
2. Who to call? Your interviewer will doggedly insist that everyone else in the firm, down to that nice old man in Reprographics, is unavailable and not answering their phone. Point out that in practice, it would be borderline negligent if no-one else but the lone trainee were available. You'd try to get hold of someone more senior, from an associate in your team through the managing partner. Whoever. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you would seek out the guidance of someone more qualified than you.
3. If the rest of the firm has been abducted by aliens and you're truly now the only soul left aboard HMS Linklaters / Fulbright / Whatever, you need to think of a solution. You probably don't want to mess with the main documents, but you might want to suggest a deed of amendment/variation to alter the wording of the main (erroneous) document.
4. You'd email your client at this point, attaching your draft variation and explaining the situation. NOTE: you're not emailing them in a blind panic asking for their help and explaining that your supervisor has vanished. You've noted an error in the documents, and you're proposing the deed of variation as a solution. What does the client think?
Why does this solution work? You demonstrate that you're:
1. Client-focused. You never let on that you're out of your depth / on your own / unable to cope.
2. Pragmatic. Scoring a cheap point off the other side may not be what your client wants (for example, if there's an ongoing business relationship at stake).
3. Calm under pressure. This is a biggie. City salaries come with City-size problems (and egos) sometimes, and keeping calm under pressure is literally the most valuable skill you could have.
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