The average American spends more than 30% of their time at work. I imagine that the percentage increases significantly for attorneys, who often put in 50 hour workweeks to meet the demands of their clients.
Many lawyers spend just as much time in the office as they do in their homes. These are serious considerations when you are seeking employment within an established practice.
When given a choice, would you rather spend this much time in a place that you enjoy, doing work that fulfills you… or in an environment that brings you down, doing work that makes you miserable?
To determine your best law firm fit, it’s important to make some self assessments and do your homework.
No one knows you better that you. Carefully consider the following questions and give truthful answers:
- What areas of law make you want to get up in the morning – With so many practice areas in the legal field, it is easy to get stuck doing work that you don’t enjoy. Maybe you hastily accepted your very first job offer or chose to follow the money instead of your heart. Enjoyable work doesn’t feel like work, so figure out what you enjoy and chart a course for a career in that practice area.
- What types of clients do you most enjoy helping – Are you a corporate client whisperer or do you value to the personal communication that comes with individual clients? Client interaction occurs on a daily basis, so it’s important to recognize your temperament and which clients you are best able to assist.
- Do you work best in a small office environment or does a corporate setting inspire you more – The differences in these two environments are like night and day. In general, large law firms are more formal and less personable. You may work in the same firm with other lawyers that you barely even know. Whereas, in a small firm, you may work closely with all of your colleagues by regularly collaborating on cases.
- What personality type are you and what personality types do you work best with – Many law practices have reputations that precede them. They may be known as being intensely serious, relaxed, quirky, or service oriented. Do your research when considering potential firms and consider what type of culture best fits with your personality.
- Do you desire prestige and fame – Be honest with yourself. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to a reach a certain level of status within your community. Some law firms are better suited for meeting this goal than others. If you plan to seek political office one day or become a legal analyst on television, pick a law firm that will further your goals and give you the prestige that these types of positions require.
When seeking work within an existing practice, do your research. It’s a mistake to jump at the first offer without carefully examining the firm and yourself. With a little aforethought, you can make a choice that keeps you happy in your career for years to come.
About Erika Winston:
Erika Winston is a Virginia based writer with a passion for all things legal. As a former domestic relations attorney, she understands the challenge of determining the best fee structure for your practice. Erika is a regular contributor to TimeSolv and a variety of other publications.