The size of a law firm can significantly affect the kind of work experience at that firm. Today, the majority of all attorneys or law school students who are looking to become an associate at a law firm face two issues:
- 1. What are their chances of getting hired in these dire economic days?
- 2. And if they get hired, what size law firm should they work for?
While the recent surveys indicate that job prospects for the potential law associates are shining up, that is not the prime concern as of now. In this post, we’ll focus on the second aspect, which is the size of law firm the attorneys or associates should work for.
Whether to go for a small law firm or large law firm?
Today, the lawyers and attorneys are working with both small as well as large law firms. Both, the large and small law firms have their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. In the following section of the article, we’ll be looking at the major benefits and challenges of working in both a small and large law firm.
Benefits & Challenges associated with the small law firms:
Most of the attorneys in private practice are employed in the small law firms. In the recent survey by American Bar Association’s 2000 Lawyer Statistical Report, it has revealed that almost 15% of the attorneys are employed in the firm having 10 or less employees. Below are a few of the major benefits & challenges of working in a small firm.
- Highly Varied Work
This is one of the biggest benefits that a lawyer can leverage from smaller law firms. Unlike a giant firm, which has a high degree of specialization, lawyers in smaller firms are often generalists and get immense exposure to work on all kinds of tasks assigned to them. This will help them work across a broad spectrum of practice areas.
- Flexible Work Schedules
Unlike large firms, the lawyers of the small firms have more flexibility when it comes to work schedules, and the main reason behind flexible working hours is the cozy and adjustable environment in the law firm.
- “Hands On” Experience
Due to the limited number employees and staff, new attorneys and paralegals can perform more effectively all the legal tasks with little or no supervision.
- Informal, Relaxed Atmosphere
Unlike large firms where the lawyers have to follow a specific dress code, small firm culture is quite less formal and relaxed. There is nothing like specific dress code or etiquettes to be followed by the staff.
- Significant Client Contact
Attorneys may get a chance to work with the more transparent working environment when it comes to client contacts as they can operate with greater autonomy. Unlike the large firms, the client contacts are not reserved for senior lawyers.
- Abbreviated Partnership Track
Very short road to partnership in the small firms due to a limited number of lawyers and layers of management.
- Friendly, Collegiate Environment
As there are a few numbers of attorneys working in a small firm, they know each other by their first name, which creates more friendly and informal working environment.
- Greater Input into Firm Processes and Management
Working with the small firms ensures more control in the direction and management of the firm to the legal professionals.
- Increased Visibility
It becomes very for the legal professionals prove themselves in the small firms and help them get recognition and rewards.
- Less Formal Training
Much of the lawyer’s training in a small firm is “ON JOB”, which means professionals have to learn quickly to survive or continue the job.
- Smaller Support Staff
In the small firms, you will have a little or no supporting staff, which means lawyers will have to perform various activities at their own.
Due to lower budget of the small firms as compared to the large firms, you may get low salary. However, this is not always true.
Benefits of working with large firms:
Large companies have reputable law offices and a spacious compared to small businesses, public companies and government interest.The opportunity to handle the high-end legal work, lawyers resort provides employees with an intellectually challenging environment. Below are the benefits of working with Large
- Commitment to Diversity
There are many firms that are creating diversity initiatives to encourage and promote the success of its women and minority lawyers and provide equal opportunities.
- Pro Bono Initiatives
Many large firms often establish pro bono and public service programs, which encourage attorneys and paralegals to input their certain number of hours to help the community and underserved people.
- Name-Recognition and Prestige
Working with one of the leading law firms that is well-established and recognized means a high social status and prestige.
- Intellectual Challenge
Most of the large firms work with high-end, complicated and transactional legal work, which provides an intellectual challenging environment to the lawyers.
- Mega firms often recruit only the best students from the most prestigious law schools
As most of the large firms pay more dollars, such firms recruit the most qualified lawyers and staff from the prestigious law schools only. Most of them have bachelor’s degree and enough experience in their legal speciality.
- Considerable Client Contact
The client of a large firm is more diverse than that of smaller firms. A huge client base ensures that the firm will never face financial issues if anyone client takes its business elsewhere.
In all aspects, different-sized firms will have a different working environment, culture, varying compensation and hours, which at the end affect the experience at the firm. So which firm you’re going to join? Small or the big one?