Anonymous User wrote:Question about the firm I'll be summering at regarding career development, since I would potentially like to go in-house one day.
I'm going to be working this summer at a small (~25 lawyer) secondary market satellite office of a NLJ250 BigLaw firm HQ'd in one of the primary markets (NY/CHI/DC). The secondary market I'm in is pretty big, but not huge (think Philly/Houston/Atlanta). The firm is still a nationally known BigLaw firm, although this office isn't particularly well-established my city since the office is relatively new. Because the office is so small, the cases will be pretty leanly staffed and I'll take on responsibility pretty quickly, and the firm is not highly-leveraged at all so being on the partner track is a real possibility. I will have several practice areas to choose from, so I'm not going to forced to work in any particular niche, although I will likely be on the transactional side.
My question: in terms of career development and potential in-house exit options in my secondary market, is it better to be at a smaller office like this and have potentially greater experience and responsibility, or to be at one of the biggest firms in the city with a better reputation, even if your experience may not be quite as substantial. I worry that because my firm isn't as well-known in my secondary market as it is in it's primary city, it might hurt me in the long run.
This is a great question and I can't responsibly give you a categorical 'A matters more than B' answer. Experience strongly affects your lateral options, especially in-house. If you can get a lot of amazing experience in a smaller city the next few years, this should be more helpful to you than being another warm body in a major city. At the same time, however, being from a major city office tends to look good on the resume because people in our profession tend to assume (probably fairly) that the work, hours, and training are more challenging in, for instance, New York than in Houston. Also, are you sure that the caliber of work available is the same in the smaller city as it is at your firm's main office? Is the smaller office stable and established despite its newness or is it still in that take whatever work you can get to survive mode? Taking a lot of responsibility on deals that are less important, less diverse, and less difficult is not necessarily that great. Obviously, the best option is to get great experience in a major city so that you have everything working to your advantage. Think carefully about whether that is an option and how you can make that happen for yourself. If you think you will absolutely get far better experience in the firm's smaller city office than in the firm's primary office, however, then I would go with the smaller city.