When it’s time to think about finding a legal job, national law firms are often the first employers that come to mind. But the top end of town is not your only option. In fact, smaller firms make up most of the legal profession, and they are just as beneficial to a budding legal career.
I’ve been working at a small law firm for the past nine years and it’s been a fantastic experience. For starters, the work you do in most small firms is highly varied. You can work on different files covering a range of legal areas, putting the hard work you did in each subject to good use.
Chances are you’ll also have a hands-on involvement with files, and be able to make decisions, provide input and do much more complex legal work at an earlier stage in your career. This autonomy means you also get to deal with clients; take their instructions, and give them advice.
I also have good work life balance and the office has a more relaxed atmosphere. At a smaller firm you get to know people better, on a friendly basis rather than being strictly colleagues.
Because of that, it’s easier to approach senior lawyers to ask them for advice or to turn to them when you have problems with a file you’re handling. You feel that you can continue learning, and that you’re not going to look stupid asking what may well be an obvious question.
With fewer junior lawyers and paralegals to supervise, senior lawyers have more time to mentor, and your hard work on a matter rarely goes unnoticed. This means the possibility of swifter promotion.
So get talking to your local law firm and find out if they’re looking for a paralegal or would be happy to take you on for some work experience. You never know where it will lead.
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