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An attorney working in a small labor and employment law firm in Washington DC contacted me looking to move to a larger law firm. The attorney had excellent academic qualifications and had attended a top college and a respectable law school where they had done very well. The attorney had worked in state government for a year after graduating from law school and then had taken a position in the small law firm where he had connections. Despite the fact that the attorney was getting excellent experience at the current firm, they wanted to go to a law firm that was larger and more prestigious. The attorney was open to looking in Northern Virginia, Baltimore and all around DC.
Because the attorney had such excellent academic qualifications and was in a desirable practice area I believe that it wouldn’t be too difficult for them to get a new position. Nevertheless, there were challenges. The main challenge was that the attorney was coming from a very small law firm where larger law firms would not necessarily be comfortable with the quality of training that the attorney may receive. In addition, many of the law firms may have wondered why the attorney had not gotten experience clerking for a large law firm during the summer after their second year of law school. When an attorney does not have experience in a large law firm, other large law firms will be reluctant to bring on the attorney because they will believe that there were reasons— i.e., there was something wrong with the attorney— that they did not get a position with a large law firm.
Here, what I thought was so attractive about this attorney was how well they had done in law school and the quality of law school and college they attended. They obviously had a strong aptitude for practicing law and, for whatever reason, had just ended up with a small law firm where they had connections out of law school.
When I spoke with this attorney on the phone, I was very impressed with how well he connected with me and how well he came across. The attorney was also committed to practicing labor and employment law and having been trained in this for the past few years made him an excellent candidate for large law firms. Large law firms very much like a couple of things in lateral candidates. First, they like it when they did well at good law schools, and this attorney had that. Second, they like when people are committed to a practice area and show aptitude for it. Third, they like it when an attorney is trying to move up and work in a larger law firm because they will treat the new position with a lot of enthusiasm.
Despite the fact that the attorney was coming from such a small law firm, several law firms shared my enthusiasm for the attorney’s background and he was interviewed by a number of large law firms. Ultimately, he took a position with a medium size law firm that still paid very well.
Labor and employment has always been a very good practice area and it is good in both strong and weak economies. This attorney showed that even in the most competitive markets, labor and employment attorneys are marketable to large law firms. This attorney was able to get a position with a major law firm despite coming from a smaller firm and never having worked in a major firm before. They were able to do it after almost 5 years out of law school and drastically increase their compensation and the prestige level of their resume. All it took was one phone call.