Joining a large law firm is the ultimate dream of many a law student.
The legal field offers a wide range of job options and opportunities for lawyers.
You can opt to join a private law firm, work for a private company, go into solo practice, work for government institutions, or work for state or federal court.
Many lawyers have in mind which sectors they want to work in, and many of them want to work with a large law firm.
What are Large Law Firms?
Large law firms or mega-firms are firms that typically have over 100 lawyers and have more than one office location. Large law firms typically have large corporations instead of individuals as their clients.
They also work on a range of practice areas, including corporate law, patents, securities regulations, and mergers and acquisitions.
Big law firms have many associate lawyers working for them. Their tasks depend on how long they have been with the law firm and how high up the ladder they have reached.
How to get a Job in Large Law Firms?
Aiming to work in a large law firm entails a lot of preparation that usually starts in law school or for some, even during their undergrad years. If you are serious about clinching a job in a large law firm, here are some preparations you can do.
Set your Goals
Set your goals while pursuing your undergrad studies and through law school. Whether your goal is to get accepted in the top 10 law schools or a top 10 law firm, your grades and GPA need to be at par with their standards.
Your grades are your priority, so you need to study hard and perhaps spend a lot of time in the library to ensure that you graduate at the top of your class. You should also be thinking at this time about what area of law you want to concentrate on.
While in law school, ponder on the area of law you want to concentrate on through the internship programs. It would also be great if you get a job offer before you graduate from your JD.
Learn a Foreign Language
Most large firms are going international, so it will work to your advantage if you are fluent in a second language. This will go a long way if you need to speak to clients who are not fluent in English.
Native English speakers who are fluent in a second language are possibly more confident and interesting. They often do better in interviews and get more job offers.
The idea of having “it is all about who you know” is also accurate today. In the legal industry, “who you know matters a lot” because deals are often based on relationships. Recruiters build relationships with law firms, so they know which applicant is a perfect fit.
Master your Interview Skills
Mastering interview techniques will help you ace the interview.
• Dress appropriately
• Have a firm handshake
• Recognize all social cues
• Answer in a concise manner
• Keep the conversation moving but do not talk too much
• Look and feel confident
• Practice before you go to any interview
• Be conversational while being professional at all times.
To sum up all the tips: be mindful of how you are dressed, your body language, how long you are speaking, and the tone of your voice. More importantly, prepare for your interview.
Everyone wants to land their dream job immediately right after law school. However, that is not how it works in the real world. Like in any industry, you will need to climb the ladder until you get to where you want to be.
Do not be in such a rush. Your first year in a law firm will be extremely exhausting. The legal industry is, to be honest, exhausting. You will get used to all the hard work and late nights.
Try to stay where you are for the first couple of years. Jumping from one law firm to another will not look good in your resume. The best thing to do is to stick it out in your present firm and wait until you get the job you have been aspiring for in the firm.
To get an invitation to join a large law firm is a huge goal and not easy to achieve. Preparation starts while in college and law school. Being around the social area is also a big plus. If you take your time, are trainable, and be focused on your goals, you just might be able to make it happen.
Benefits of Working in a Large Law Firm
To be part of a law firm and work with fellow lawyers and clients are in itself a big challenge. Working with a large law firm is a more significant challenge.
The benefits of working in a large law firm will make you feel that it was the best decision you have ever made with your career.
Large law firms offer different work environments and cultures for their interns, associates, partners, and employees. Working in a large law firm offers many benefits, ranging from the financial aspect to career self-gratification. Of course, you can never set aside the prestige you will get from working in a large law firm.
Large law firms are known to be paying high salaries, and this may be one of the significant reasons lawyers are scampering to be part of these firms. The Department of Labor says that in 2019, first-year associates earn about $150,000 a year plus bonuses.
Big law firms also offer substantial and comprehensive compensation packages, including reimbursements, health care plans, stock options, and wellness plans. Large law firms are the highest paying entity in the legal profession.
Large law firms have a substantial client base because they can attract wealthy and high-profile clients and can afford to pay high salaries to their legal professionals.
Big law firm associates live respectable and luxurious lives because of their big salaries. This does not come easy, though, because they need to work for every penny they earn. They are expected to bill clients a predetermined number of hours.
Associates in big law firms are expected to bill many hours. They are often “on-call” all the time, making them miss vacations, family dinners, important and special occasions, and even a simple trip to the gym.
Significant and Diverse Client Base
Large law firms have a humongous and diverse database of clients that makes it less likely for the firm to experience financial difficulties if a client pulls out his business. The diversity of clients allows lawyers access to a wide range of knowledge and experience.
Large law firms are known for winning some of the most high-profile and elite cases. This allows lawyers in large law firms to gain a lot of exposure to such matters and superior experience.
A large law firm also offers an intellectually, challenging working environment. A wide range of legal cases such as class action suits and high-profile cases require large and robust staff to prepare and try matters in court. Thus, associates will be exposed to these kinds of work that can challenge their intellect and get loads of experience.
Most clients of large firms are high-end and therefore need some sophistication in the service being offered by the law firm. They will promote the high-caliber talents they have and the full range of legal resources to justify their high billings.
Excellent Career Growth Opportunities
Working with a large law firm opens a world of opportunities for career growth. Once you prove your worth, advancement opportunities will come your way.
A large law firm allows you to work with a diverse client base. Put in a lot of hard work and learn everything you can, and from being a junior associate, you can work yourself up the steep ladder and be a senior partner.
You will get an enormous amount of learning opportunities from a large law firm that can build your portfolio. Additionally, since most large law firms have international clients, you will have a chance to work with them. This is a plus to your resume.
Large law firms have a clear organizational hierarchy with defined career paths and steps for promotion for every lawyer and employee. Many lawyers join a big law firm with a long-term career plan.
A new lawyer recruit typically starts on different associate and partner levels until he ultimately becomes a senior partner.
Job satisfaction is as essential as financial benefits and career growth. Job satisfaction is what you want and expect to gain from working in a large law firm.
In a large law firm, your intellectual capacity will continuously be challenged with each new case that comes your way. Law firms handle diverse and complex cases. Thus, you will be able to sharpen your intellectual ability. Working with a team to find the best solution to a complex problem provides a lot of job satisfaction.
Opportunity to Work with Credentialed and Successful Colleagues
A large law firm has a collective team of successful, credentialed, and highly accomplished colleagues. These law firms are willing to pay their employees at all levels resulting in them having some of the most talented administrators, lawyers, and paralegals in the legal industry.
Large law firms typically recruit lawyers from the top law schools thus, they have a team of employees and lawyers with impressive credentials.
Lawyers have unending things to learn in the course of practicing their profession. Large law firms are the best venues to gain new knowledge from learned and qualified colleagues continuously. Learning from prestigious colleagues within a great environment contributes to a great learning experience.
Large law firms typically have robust support staff, technological, and networking resources. Large law firms have the advantage of having a large support staff, including secretaries, receptionists, administrators, project managers, proofreaders, marketing specialists, documentation clerks, paralegals, and more.
Well-Developed Training Programs
Large law firms often create comprehensive mentoring and training programs for all their support staff and lawyers. Such training programs often include new employee onboard training, continuing education, in-house educational programs, and various learning sessions for continued growth.
A law firm is a business and a brand. Large law firms create a certain level of prestige and popularity. This is justified by their complex caseloads and credentialed team of lawyers.
Many large law firms have, because of hard work and the many complex cases and high-profile clients they have been involved with, have created a brand that has a high recall. The name recognition of the firm can be a big plus to your resume when you want to move forward to other opportunities.
Large law firms handle many pro bono cases that encourage their paralegals and lawyers to lend their legal expertise to help impoverished individuals and the community. This is helpful for lawyers because bar associations require their members to render continuous pro bono service for membership.
Offices in Prime Locations
Large law firms often have their offices in luxurious buildings located in prime business hubs creating a prestigious business address. Offices of large law firms are often housed in high-end buildings that are easily accessible, spaces, and packed with many amenities such as specialty restaurants, full-service cafeterias, and more.
The offices themselves of these firms are well-designed, spacious, and include state-of-the-art furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
Large law firms have a reputation to protect. They should, therefore, project an image that is synonymous with their status.
Career Path of Lawyers in Law Firms
Large law firms are composed of a team of lawyers as well as non-lawyer executives, and support staff.
The career path of a lawyer in large law firms can be a long and tedious journey but nevertheless fulfilling both from the financial and self-gratification aspects.
An associate position is the entry point for lawyers joining large law firms. These are typically young lawyers with many of them fresh graduates. Large law firms divide this position into junior and senior associates depending on their level of experience.
A lawyer usually works as an associate for six to ten years before being promoted to the “partner” position. The promotion qualifications include a combination of legal expertise, client base, and compatibility with the firm’s culture.
Law Firm Partners
Law firm partners are shareholders of the firm. They are joint operators and owners of the firm. Most large law firms have two-tiered partnership structures: equity partners are shareholders and of the firm and share in its profits; non-equity partners have been promoted to through the ranks and are paid a fixed annual salary.
A managing partner sits at the top of a large law firm’s hierarchy. A senior managing partner is usually the founding lawyer of the firm and handles the day-to-day operations.
A managing partner handles the management responsibilities of the firm as well as a full-time law practice.