If you choose to work in a law firm having CRM for lawyers, then your next decision which law firm to apply for can fast become a vexing one. Even if you have a strong sense of where you’d like to work, it pays to ensure your decision is a carefully considered one. To help you make the best choice, we’ve compiled some questions every law graduate should be able to answer when considering a prospective law firm.
There are pros and cons to working in firms at either end of the spectrum. While some may be drawn to the scale, stability and career advancement opportunities offered by medium and large firms, others will prefer smaller practices in which they can focus on specific topics of interest, develop close client relationships and potentially enjoy a more close-knit culture.
Of course, there are few merits that are reliably exclusive to firms of any size, so the scale of any specific firm should be considered only insofar as it might impact on your career satisfaction and advancement.
As you’ve seen in the first section of this guide, there are many legal practice areas in which you could choose to specialise. If you have a strong sense of which of these interests you most, then it’s worth seeking out firms that will cultivate your passion.
So if you find taxation law too dry, consider family law; if you find family law too draining, consider criminal law; if you find criminal law too confronting, consider something else, and so on and so forth, until a practice area comes along that excites you. Look for a firm where you can focus on that.
Bear in mind, it can be difficult to switch practice areas once you commit to one. It’s also important to consider whether or not your personality fits with your desired practice area.
The importance of culture in a law firm cannot be overstated. After all, there are few other environments in which you’ll work as intensely or closely with other groups of people, so it pays to ensure you fit in and feel supported.
To properly evaluate the culture of a law firm, you’ll need to ask a variety of questions: How competitive is the law firm? What sort of people work there? What is expected of graduate employees? What are the people like? How many hours a week will I work?
Law firms and even individual teams within firms also vary widely in their value systems. Some may value individualism, conspicuous effort or billable hours; others may value employee and client satisfaction, work/life balance or community engagement. Where possible, try to secure a position in a firm whose values are consistent with yours.
On average, people change jobs 11–12 times during their careers. So it pays to consider where you want to be, not just for the next few years but in a decade or so. If you have a strong sense of your career goals, then you should ensure the firm you’re interested in will help you meet them.
This might mean checking you’ll learn the right skills, focus on the right issues, gain the right experience or network with the right people. Some firms have established professional development initiatives, especially those with structured graduate programs. Just be certain that your career will grow at the target firm and not, instead, be restricted.
For law graduates excited by the prospect of working abroad or focusing on international cases, it could be worth prioritising firms that have a global presence. It can be much easier to find employment overseas if internal transfers are available, and international firms often leverage their global presence to address legal issues that span multiple jurisdictions.
On the other hand, if you’d prefer to work in a single location or focus on domestic issues, you may wish to avoid international firms in which overseas postings or training programs are considered a natural part of your career progression.