Go big or go home, right? While the prestige of a large firm may be alluring, there are many advantages to working at a small- to mid-sized law firm. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a firm too quickly and discounting the very real benefits of working at a just as well-established but smaller practice. Here are some things to consider:
Strong Working Relationships and Frequent Client Contact
Greater Flexibility and Independence
A Wider Breadth of Experiences
Support For the Local Economy and Small Businesses
At a large firm, it’s pretty commonplace for employees to get lost in the chaos of it all. A lot of lawyers and staff work on the same cases, resulting in one or two (or more) instances of “too many hands in the pot.”
Small- to medium-sized firms, however, have more to offer. Small firms offer a breadth of hands-on experience with cases, as well as the opportunities to regularly work with clients and superiors–all things that set you up for a long-lasting, successful career.
Big law firms are demanding law firms. Long, inflexible hours are the norm. As a lawyer at a small- to mid-size practice, you’re that much more likely to have some flexibility. You may have the flexibility to set your own hours at some of these firms. That can free up time for family, hobbies, medical appointments, side hustles, and whatever else may be on your plate.
Huge law firms are more likely to run like a production line. Each employee has his or her own specific role, they do it, and they go home. Small- to mid-sized firms have fewer employees with just as many tasks to get done. That means staff members are likely to do a little bit of everything, something that’s increasingly valuable and desired in the modern workforce. Learning all aspects of law, including the marketing and paperwork, will only help boost your career and make you more valuable to your current and future employers.
If you’re not a fan marketing and administrative duties, however, many small practices work with marketing funding and payroll funding companies to outsource these services. Ask what your an average day will entail during the interview to get the whole picture before accepting a new role.
Small businesses, or businesses with fewer than 500 employees, make up just about all businesses in the U.S., or 99.7%, according to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBE). That includes law practices and law offices. Similarly, small businesses also create more jobs than big businesses or corporations. Simply put, you may have an easier time finding a job at a small- or mid-size law firm.
Are there disadvantages to supporting small businesses? Not necessarily, especially when it comes to law firms. All small companies struggle with cash flow at times, with 82% failing for that reason. However, with law, you’re more likely to experience gaps in pay versus no pay at all. There may be a lull when waiting for a big case to pay out, for example. Thankfully, law firm funding companies are there for you when you are buttoning up the paperwork on big cases. Law firm funding companies lend relatively small amounts (over 50% of business loans are for $100,000 or less) or larger amounts as needed. What’s more, with guaranteed income coming in, law practices are easily able to pay back these loans. Investing in law firm funding companies is another way small practices give back to the local economy.
The most strategic move for a lasting career as a lawyer may be working at a mid-sized practice. Favor these businesses for greater client contact, more flexible hours, varied experience, and to support local businesses.