Industry Resources

Guide to Choosing the Right Firm for You

You are looking to make a lateral move to another Biglaw firm. You make a checklist of things you want from your next move. You want to work for a firm that provides a good environment, partners that are willing to help with all your questions, mentors throughout the firm, higher salaries to help with that massive student loan and a chance to move up fairly quickly. There is never a perfect choice as lots of good options exist — but Lateral Link can help get you as close to a perfect situation as possible.

Keep in mind that the field you have chosen comes with expectations that might seem daunting when you sit and think about it. An all in compensation increase is usually a big factor. But the initial starting compensation isn’t as meaningful as the long term upside. I oftentimes see attorneys make long term decisions without considering the real long-term compensation differences. At the very least, you should know the lockstep associate ranges, and even more important, the partnership prospects and that that actually means should you receive the invitation.

Before deciding on which firm to join, consider these tips, provided by Lateral Link

Don’t believe everything you hear. While in law school, many students hear various things about specific law firms. Word of advice? Don’t listen. Every experience is different, every situation is different. Law students must understand that there is no “one” perfect firm. Most things you hear during your law school tenure are inaccurate, superficial, and out of date. Students should use their lawyerly skepticism without being cynical. The publicly available rankings are mostly fluff. The reality is that every firm changes its composition every year based on the lateral movements, both in and out, that the firm realizes. Take Dewey for example:

Balancing work and life is always challenging – no matter which firm you choose. It seems like the moment you decide to start a family is the exact same moment your legal career is at its busiest. You have chosen a tough and demanding profession. The years when you learn your craft, develop your specialty, gain acceptance, earn a promotion, and cement relationships with clients are in direct and substantial conflict with the years when you start and raise your family. That will not change. What you can do is discuss with your life partner the choices you are going to make in order to manage the process as effectively as possible. Additionally, U.S News & World Report provided some pointers on How To Handle Workplace Stress.

Do not assume that size always matters. Do not assume that taking a job at a smaller law firm necessarily means less hours and kumbaya in the office. Many lawyers who make the leap from large firms to small firms are dismally surprised when the hours and pressure does not change, and even more troubled that what they thought was a millennial culture with group hugs and unlimited kombucha on tap is actually a firm where the pressure to produce is paramount. To that end, sometimes in house roles actually require more hours and less pay than what you would see at a law firm. This information isn’t readily available via online resources or self-flattery. A good recruiter will know the difference in expectations among various career options.

Choose a firm based on the people. Pick a firm based on the people. The structural components are helpful, but ultimately, decision makers make the decisions that will most affect where you fit in the structure. Who cares if a firm has $4mm PPP when you are invited into the partnership. You may be better off with a firm that has much lower metrics if you are someone who stands out and is rightfully recognized.

For those of you who are not parents but believe that that is in your future, there is really no way to put into words the benefits and burdens of parenting. It’s the most rewarding and demanding job you will ever have. It’s unpredictable, time-consuming, draining, exhausting, and fascinating. And that’s just in the first few days after you bring a child home from the hospital. Setting aside the moments of wonder and awe — it is also tiring and difficult. There are days when your eyelids ache. There are nights when you can’t sort the burdens of work from the burdens of parenting. You will experience sleepless dawns followed by demanding days.

So what’s the moral of the story? There is no perfect firm, and anyone who says there is probably also has a bridge to sell you and doesn’t deserve your trust. But there are better options more aligned with your career goals. Contact one of our well-versed recruiters today to discuss your specific goals so that we can create a bespoke plan that fits your needs.