About a year and a half ago, I was just a small-firm girl with a dream: to find the truth about small-firm life. After writing this column, and speaking to a wide range of fellow small-firm attorneys, I learned that small firms are all different. Some are mini-sweatshops with small-firm attorneys who have Biglaw egos (and pedigrees), while some are small groups of like-minded, hard-working, intelligent attorneys.
While I never discovered the whole truth about small-firm life, I did pick up a few worthwhile lessons….
(i) If you have the luxury to mill over a job offer, spend as much time as you can trying to get to know the culture at the small firm, as culture matters more than at Biglaw.
(ii) If you are ambitious, or can feign ambition, a small firm is a good place for you because the lack of established hierarchy often means you can grow much faster than at a larger firms.
(iii) If you want to get down, go to small firms because they have the best parties.
(iv) If you want to move in-house, then small firms…
CAN GET YOU THERE, TOO! How do I know? Because I have successfully transitioned from small firm to small legal department. No doubt I will soon move in to a small house, wear small clothes, eat small meals, seek out Alice’s (of Alice in Wonderland) bottle of DRINK ME to grow small, and otherwise spend the next chapter of my career proving that Size Matters.
So, this is goodbye — for now. Please stay in touch. And stay small.
When not writing about small law firms for Above the Law, Valerie Katz (not her real name) works at a small firm in Chicago. You can reach her by email at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ValerieLKatz.