6 Rules Attorneys Use to Choose between Competing Law Firm Offers

  1. Most Attorneys Will Choose a Firm Based on the Firm's Perceived Prestige Level
  2. The Sense of Importance Attorneys Attach to Working in a Given Firm Will Strongly Influence Whether They Accept Employment There
  3. The Attorney's Perception He/She Will Be Welcomed in the Firm Will Have a Strong Influence on His/Her Choice to Join One Firm Over Another
  4. The Type of Work an Attorney Is Offered Will Have a Strong Influence on His/Her Decision to Join a Given Firm
  5. Attorneys Will Often Choose to Join a Firm Based Upon Their Perceived Advancement Potential
  6. Unless the Salary Is Drastically Lower, Money Is a Less Important Consideration for Attorneys Than Most Firms Seem to Believe
As professional search consultants, part of our job is to counsel attorneys on a daily basis as to how they should choose between competing law firms. There is a considerable degree of insight that is needed to understand the psychology that attorneys attach to choosing between competing offers, and contrary to popular perception, attorneys do not always choose to work in the highest-paying or most prestigious law firms. Understanding why attorneys choose one firm over another can help you both attract and retain attorneys after they are hired.

The Top 6 Ways Attorneys Choose What Law Firm to Work For

While there are exceptions, most attorneys choose between competing law firm offers based upon:
  • The perceived prestige level of the firm,
  • The perceived sense of importance that the attorney attaches to working in a given firm,
  • Whether or not the attorney perceived that he/she will be assimilated in a socio-cultural perspective into the firm,
  • The perceived work offered,
  • The attorney's perceived advancement potential in a given firm, and
  • Money
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes
As we analyze the placements we make, even we are surprised to see that the least important consideration to most attorneys is the money offered. How law firms deal with the perceptions that motivate attorneys' choices to join a given firm is of paramount importance in the recruiting of talented attorneys.


While there are exceptions to this rule, attorneys will generally pick the more prestigious (i.e., well known) firm over the less prestigious firm. For large national law firms, there is certainly a drawing power that they have over more regional or smaller competitors that to some extent allows them to exert control over the hiring process. Larger firms may have more interesting work, a greater variety of work, more stability, the opportunity for $1,000,000+ annual salaries at the partnership level, great support staff, and a whole variety of other positive factors.

OBSERVATION: As a general rule, most attorneys crave stability and want to be high achievers and, as a result, have great fear about what others think of them and tend to be very risk-averse as well. Perhaps because we are a consumer- and brand-oriented culture, however, many attorneys are attracted by name brands at the expense of logical decision making..