Should an Attorney Choose a Small or Large Law Firm to Work in? |

Should an Attorney Choose a Small or Large Law Firm to Work in?


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The recent Madoff ponzi scheme, the similar ponzi scheme of the Dreier law firm and the complete meltdown of Blagojevich, the Governor of Illinois, have all got me thinking.
Should an Attorney Choose a Small or Large Law Firm to Work in?
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

All over our country there are countless people who are trying to be something they are not. They want more money because they feel this will somehow do something more for their lives.

What does this mean for your legal career?

In my years of recruiting I have seen so many attorneys through good careers away by only being concerned with the money. Most often the highest paying firms often offer attorneys the least chance for partnership. Time and time again, however, most attorneys go with the short term prospect of more money over the possibility of making partner and winding up in a stable law firm.

The way most attorneys think is very confusing to me. The instability that many expose themselves to is very confusing to me. I think that the most intelligent thing attorneys can do in the present day economy is to find a law firm where they are going to be secure.

Several years ago I was interviewing with a law firm in Los Angeles that paid below market rate. I liked the people in the firm and it seemed like a very nice place to work. The partner in the law firm who was the name partner told me while he was interviewing me that I would never make as much money in the law firm as at large law firms, but that I would always have a job. He told me about the stability of the firm and its partners and that this was a very smart place for me to be practicing law.

I chose not to work at this firm and instead chose recruiting. That was almost a decade ago.

Since that decade has passed the law firm I was working at when I interviewed with the small firm in Los Angeles has gained and lost so many partners I do not think I know anyone there anymore. Many of the partners from this firm are no longer practicing law. In addition, I have watched people that I know early in my career work at a succession of 7-8 jobs in different law firms during this same period of time.

This small firm that I interviewed is still there. With one exception, each of the seven partners who interviewed me when I interviewed with the firm are still there. The firm is still chugging along and the people who work there seem secure and happy. When I got married several years ago I even hired this firm to do my will and some other formalities. The people there are all happy.

The attorneys in this firm still make a bit less money. Who care, though? They are happy and have security and are not playing crazy games with their careers. I really respect this firm and its attorneys. Had I chosen to work in that firm instead of recruiting, I would respect myself for choosing that firm.

You need to be careful with your career and the choices you make.

Click here to contact Harrison

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and a successful legal recruiter. He is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. His firm BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys. BCG Attorney Search works with attorneys to dramatically improve their careers by leaving no stone unturned in job searches and bringing out the very best in them. Harrison has placed the leaders of the nation’s top law firms, and countless associates who have gone on to lead the nation’s top law firms. There are very few firms Harrison has not made placements with. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placements attract millions of reads each year. He coaches and consults with law firms about how to dramatically improve their recruiting and retention efforts. His company LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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