Opportunities in small cities; exit options?

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Opportunities in small cities; exit options?

Postby greenchair » Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:46 am

I am a 1L at a T2 in Chicago. I don't have my grades yet. I am fortunate to have no debt.

For reasons I won't get into, I may want to work in an isolated small Midwestern city (pop. 100,000) after law school.

With that said, I am wondering about the realistic job outlook of an attorney in a small city of about 100,000? I've done some research, and it appears the largest law firm has 15-20 attorneys, and it seems to be mostly plaintiff's counsel firms. Other attorney positions are government/PI. There are 2-3 major corporations based in this city, but working in-house right out of law school seems unlikely.

I would not mind working in this small city if both of these requirements are met:

1) I can eventually move up and make decent money. I used to work in this small city and made $31,000/year. That sucked. And I know these plaintiff's counsel firms probably start their associates around then. But is there upward mobility? I wonder my future earning potential.

2) If my relationship does not work out, I must have decent exit options... to go to a bigger city.

Guys, please talk some sense into me if I am being stupid. Am I basically sabotaging my career by considering this? To an extent, I feel brainwashed by TLS (and my peers and parents) obsession with working in big cities and with prestige. It's ironic then that I am posting on TLS, but I am hoping someone has some experience with small city, "non prestigious" law...

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Re: Opportunities in small cities; exit options?

Postby IAFG » Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:52 am

Your exit options into major cities should be reasonably good, practicing the same sorts of law (insurance defense or whatever). The experience will translate. But it's probably not going to lead to biglaw.


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Re: Opportunities in small cities; exit options?

Postby Gorki » Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:33 pm

I assume the city is in Illinois? My only worry could be if the firm does not work out and you are stranded in that city your school may not have much pull.

I know quite a few attorneys in Fargo, ND, and several cities in Minn. and Iowa that are around 100k. They basically say moving up involves actual commitment to the area. Usually this means like being part of local organization (Lions, Eagles, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) and generally getting in "the know." Unlike Chitown, or any other Midwestern metro area for that matter, a town of under 100k will have a ridiculously small network of professionals. Firms do not expect you to be shaking hands at the country club on your first day obviously, but they will be looking for signs you are committed the the town and the community.

As to your exit options Q, I defer to IAFG. SMy only point to note is that most grads I know 2-3 years out looking to "move out" end up doing so based on ties or connections made while working at their firm... So they wind up all over the place. This may make working in a 100k Midwestern town --> NYC really difficult.

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