You must make plenty of eye contact with every interviewer. If you do not, fair or not, s/he would think that you might lack interpersonal skills and confidence. I mean, let me ask you, would you want a colleague or subordinate who is always looking down at his/her shoes while talking to you about work? A-w-k-w-a-r-d.
Also note that new associates and even summer associates will have direct contract with other attorneys both within and outside the firm and, most importantly, clients! Someone who can’t even look at people in the eyes would surely make a negative impression on clients and attorneys at other firms. In turn, they may be very uncomfortable working with him/her (in extreme cases, the clients might ask that the person be switched out with someone else), and the client may get a negative impression of the firm based on its decision to send him/her to work on the client’s matter. From time to time, you hear attorneys exclaim in exasperation, ‘I can’t put that guy/gal in front of a client!” That’s why the lack of eye contact might be a kiss of death more than any other interviewing faux pas.
On the other hand, you definitely wouldn’t want to give an incessant intense stare at the interviewer. That could create an impression that you are strange, creepy and weird, which is just as bad as being socially awkward, if not worse. Our advice is to look at your interviewer in the eye for most of the interview, with an easy smile from time to time, but look away periodically to avoid the death stare effect and look comfortable talking, not overly intense.
Thank you for your question!