Congratulations! You are about to begin your career as a lawyer. This is a time to celebrate but for many, it brings about much anxiety over career path. The most common question is whether to begin a career at a small or large law firm.
Life of a Small Firm
The amount of small firms are vastly increasing and that is much in part to the many benefits that they offer. To begin, small firms are more likely to offer the flexibility that many people’s personal life required. For instance, the amount of billable hours may be less and the office may be more understanding if you cannot reach the required amount. Next, you are most likely to gain more hands-on experience at a smaller firm. As a new attorney you will be able to work on certain cases or even parts of a case that only a senior partner would be given at a larger firm.
However, the downside to a smaller firm is that it does not offer the amount of resources that a larger firm can provide. The salary and name recognition may be less, which can be a substantial factor for many new attorneys looking to pay off student loans and jumpstart their careers.
Life of a Large Firm
The idea of glitz and glamor is what draws most people to a large firm. And this is generally true. Large firms are more likely to handle larger and more complex high profile cases. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in such an environment in which they are not only tested on complex issues but also on such important cases? The resources available at a larger firm will aid tremendously in this work. Not only will there be excellent sources at the tip of your fingers but more intellectual minds are also readily available for you to collaborate with.
However, similar to small law firms, there are also drawbacks of working at a large firm. To begin, a large firm is more likely to require a large amount of billable hours with not much room for negotiation. This means long hours at the office and often times searching for work that you can use to gain the hours you need to acquire by the years end.
Next, the competition for promotion is much greater at a larger firm. Obviously, at a larger firm, there are more people and that means more people that you are competing with for the same position. Not only will competition be a factor in your chances of making partner, but you also have to worry about whether a partner position will even be open. Large firms go through cycles early on in their development when several partners are made. However, as the firm gets older, fewer partners are made.
The choice between a large and small law firm can seem like a very difficult decision that you think will shape the rest of your career. The best way to tackle this choice is to decide what you absolutely need and conversely cannot have in a law firm. Take in mind the above as well as your personal needs. This is a decision unique to the individual and can only be made by you.