I receintly received this question from an associate at a large law firm:
I am with a large law firm, well compensated as a fourth-year associate, but putting in long hours,
including weekends, to make my 2,200 billable hours. Fortunately, I shall be able to pay off my educational
loans sooner, and then may want to move on. Does this make sense, leaving the firm and all that goes with it?
Here's my advice:
compensation, corporate or business clientele, excellent research facilities, and many times, solid mentoring
program in ones practice area(s). The price to be paid: long hours, very competitive partnership track, billable
hours, expectations of building a business clientele, and in a number of situations, a life that can preclude
many outside activities.
Ultimately, the decision maybe made for you - partnership or possibly staying on as a staff attorney. Beyond
that, one needs to consider whether the big law firm, with its rewards and demands, is the right setting for your
career future. Being with a less pressurized, smaller firm, going in-house with a client company, or taking your
practice expertise to a government position are some options to consider. Finally, if the practice area you have
been in since graduation is not a "good fit," exploring other areas that might be more internally rewarding to you.
David E. Behrend, M.ED., Director, Career Planning Services For Lawyers has been successfully counseling attorneys going through a career or employment transition for over 18 years. He has written and spoken prolifically on career development issues for lawyers going through changes. He can be reached at: www.lawcareercounseling.com; Behrend42@aol.com; or 610-658-9838.