Feeling as though you belong in the workplace is an essential component for any employee, including an attorney.
As a young lawyer or law school student, it can be challenging to decide which law firms you would most like to be employed at. There are countless law firms across the United States, many with excellent reputations in their specific legal communities. As you begin your career, you want to put your best foot forward and find employment with a firm that matches your interests and long-term goals as closely as possible. To help you find the right law office, we’ve put together a list of questions to ask before accepting the first offer that comes your way.
What Questions Should You Ask When Evaluating a Law Firm’s Fit for You?
What is the Firm’s Perceived Prestige Level?
When considering a law firm, you may rightly wonder how the firm is perceived, both in the legal community and amongst current and former clients. If a law office has built up a negative reputation amongst either the public or fellow attorneys, you may want to consider whether you wish to attach your name to the organization. By speaking to other local lawyers and reviewing a law firm’s online reviews (such as Google or Yelp reviews), you can get a good sense of how the group is regarded locally.
Does the Law Firm Have a Welcoming Culture?
Feeling as though you belong in the workplace is an essential component for any employee, including an attorney. Based upon your initial meetings with the other attorneys, paralegals, and office staff, do you feel as though you would enjoy working alongside your potential colleagues? Everyone’s personality and approach to tasks is different, and it’s important to find a working environment that you can thrive in. Take note of the way the law firm’s employees interact with each other and clients.
What is the Typical Attorney Workload?
Taking on cases can be a challenging, research-intensive endeavor. You don’t want to find yourself overloaded with complex cases, particularly in the early stages of your career. Finding a law firm that provides you with the structure and support you require to effectively advocate for your clients is crucial. You also want to find a firm that specializes in an area of law you find interesting. If you are most interested in family law, an office that primarily takes personal injury cases may not be appealing, even if the firm has an excellent reputation.
What is the Advancement Potential?
Does a firm offer you the opportunity to achieve your long-term career goals? A firm with an established reputation and penchant for success may offer a faster track to your objectives. In some cases, more prestigious law firms use their reputation as a selling point. You may make more money with a relatively unknown yet successful law firm, but a better-known firm may have the resources necessary to help you achieve your goals.
How Does the Pay Compare to Similar Law Firms?
Money is a deciding factor in many business decisions. When it comes time to decide where you’d like to begin your career, you certainly want to make enough money to support your lifestyle. It’s important to consider how the firm’s objectives align with yours. Is the firm looking to hire and retain a young attorney for the majority of their career, or for a shorter length of time?
Does the Firm Settle Most Cases or Go to Trial?
In some cases, accepting a settlement offer is the wisest course of action for everyone involved, including the plaintiff. However, it may be wise to be wary of a firm that settles most or all of its cases. If the lawyers are unable or unwilling to take cases to trial, they may be unable to fully represent the interests of their plaintiff. Insurance companies may offer lower settlements to lawyers that are known to avoid the courtroom, knowing that their offer is likely to be accepted.
Finding the Perfect Law Office for Your Needs
Every young attorney is looking for specific qualities in their dream law firm, and you shouldn’t feel as though you must compromise when it comes time to choose your first place of employment. Hopefully these tips help you find an ideal workplace that matches your needs and long-term goals.