• Attending a poorly ranked law school and not doing well there.
  • Not getting a summer associate’s job within a large law firm.
  • Being a general practitioner and not a specialist.
  • All these can negatively affect your law career, effectively keeping you out of major law firms.

Summary: If you ever want to work at a major law firm, you must avoid making any of these major career mistakes.

Avoid making these major career mistakes that will prevent you from getting a job at a major law firm.


In the course of my work, I encounter attorneys who have fatal flaws on their resumes that will almost always prevent them from ever getting a job in a large law firm—whether at the start of their careers or later on in their careers. Attorneys are generally completely unaware of these flaws and many mistakenly believe that “the right experience” is enough.

It is not.

Each day I review the resumes of scores of potential candidates and the majority of these poor souls (or lucky souls, depending on how you look at it) will never be able to secure a position inside of a large law firm. There are so many roadblocks to getting a position inside of a large law firm that it is a wonder anyone gets these jobs at all.
 
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

At the outset, it is important to understand that there are legitimate and strong reasons for attorneys to want to get positions at the largest and most prestigious law firms. While much is said that is negative about large law firms, there is in actuality a lot that is extremely positive about them and there are good reasons for wanting to work in them. While by no means an exhaustive list, some of the reasons include: (1) more prestige, (2) more sophisticated work for larger clients, (3) clients who pay their bills, (3) higher salaries and better benefits, (4) more stability, (5) better training, (6) better lateral career opportunities, (7) the ability to attract better clients, (8) better credentialed attorneys to work with, (9) nicer offices, and (10) better support (secretaries, paralegals, word processing departments and more).