Small Law and then ... ?

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Anonymous User
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Small Law and then ... ?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:00 am

I am fairly certain that I have no desire to practice in a big firm due to some lifestyle factors. I spent 1L summer at a small firm and am considering an offer to spend 2L summer with a similar small firm. Both are legit, well-established (e.g. non "shitlaw" as far as I understand the term) firms in small cities that pay very well for their areas but nonetheless below market for the larger/secondary markets in the area. They are both laid back firms and the attorneys work what would be considered part-time hours in biglaw (I can verify this for my 1L firm; my 2L firm makes similar claims but I can't yet verify). Some of these folks (at my 2L firm anyway) did biglaw and then moved into these positions...I don't want to say as semi-retirement but...to raise families and escape big cities. So I know people can go from biglaw to this type of work. I assume people can't go from this type of work too easily into biglaw, and that's fine with me.

But, let's just say, despite my best assessment at this time, that I end up disliking this type of practice. Even if not biglaw, what could I do if I find myself wanting a change a few years down the road?

My best guess at this point of what type of lawyer I want to be leads me to these firms, but I'm a 2L who can't claim to know for sure. What if I change my mind down the road? I am a bit worried about the possibility of being stuck at one of these firms forever if I don't like it and am unable to find a different law-related job. Thoughts?

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patrickd139
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Re: Small Law and then ... ?

Postby patrickd139 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:09 am

What size firm do you consider "small law" to be?

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Re: Small Law and then ... ?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:18 am

patrickd139 wrote:What size firm do you consider "small law" to be?


OP here. Each firm is approx. 10 - 20 attorneys.

lawschoolgrapedme
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Re: Small Law and then ... ?

Postby lawschoolgrapedme » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:46 pm

After small law....

There is no "after"

If that is where you are that is where you will always be. Few lateral positions, either in-house or to another firm, are available to small firm lawyers. One reason is that since small firms are so small, they simply have less spots to go around. That being said, they would much rather higher you than a newly minted law grad, but you'll need the ability to bring in $. (note all of that refers to lateralling firms)

hth

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Blindmelon
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Re: Small Law and then ... ?

Postby Blindmelon » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:52 pm

lawschoolgrapedme wrote:After small law....

There is no "after"

If that is where you are that is where you will always be. hth


What? Thats not even close to true. While you won't be moving inhouse at Apple, small firm lawyers still move to the DAs offices, USAO positions (less likely, yes), state government jobs, etc. It depends on the practice area you're in.

lawschoolgrapedme
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Re: Small Law and then ... ?

Postby lawschoolgrapedme » Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:03 pm

Blindmelon wrote:
lawschoolgrapedme wrote:After small law....

There is no "after"

If that is where you are that is where you will always be. hth


What? Thats not even close to true. While you won't be moving inhouse at Apple, small firm lawyers still move to the DAs offices, USAO positions (less likely, yes), state government jobs, etc. It depends on the practice area you're in.


Why would you want to?

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Cade McNown
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Re: Small Law and then ... ?

Postby Cade McNown » Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:13 pm

lawschoolgrapedme wrote:
Blindmelon wrote:
lawschoolgrapedme wrote:After small law....

There is no "after"

If that is where you are that is where you will always be. hth


What? Thats not even close to true. While you won't be moving inhouse at Apple, small firm lawyers still move to the DAs offices, USAO positions (less likely, yes), state government jobs, etc. It depends on the practice area you're in.


Why would you want to?


You're missing the point. OP asked what he could do in case he/she doesn't like the small practice.

OP, Blindmelon's responses are usually credited, and I don't know enough to add anything. But it would help to know what practice area you're in and how strong of a networker you are.

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patrickd139
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Re: Small Law and then ... ?

Postby patrickd139 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:40 pm

lawschoolgrapedme wrote:After small law....

There is no "after"

If that is where you are that is where you will always be. Few lateral positions, either in-house or to another firm, are available to small firm lawyers. One reason is that since small firms are so small, they simply have less spots to go around. That being said, they would much rather higher you than a newly minted law grad, but you'll need the ability to bring in $. (note all of that refers to lateralling firms)

hth

Not only are you being a dick, you're absolutely wrong. There are way too many moving parts in OP's question to make broad sweeping generalizations like those in your post. Anecdotally, attorneys in my secondary market hometown routinely start at firms with 10-20 attorneys and split off to form their own firms, lateral over to larger firms (albeit not 'biglaw' firms), find themselves in the US-A office or another branch of Justice, and (surprisingly often) find themselves on the bench, either as an appointed or elected member of the judiciary. Some go in house with smaller corporations (think oil and gas industry or grocery store chains) after making contacts through the firm. Is that true at every small firm for every attorney who works there? Of course not. But neither is "if that's where you are that is where you will always be."

Also, here's a suggestion: "higher" should be "hire."

hth

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Re: Small Law and then ... ?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:02 pm

OP here. Thanks for the input so far. While I don't know much about small law exit options in general (hence this thread), I can confirm what PatrickD said about people leaving small law to sit on the bench. I know of two people at my 1L firm who did that. A lot of small law attorneys also serve part-time as magistrates in outlying counties. That's about the extent of my knowledge.

The possibility mentioned above of leaving to state gov't work is intriguing.




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