Are you wondering what it’s like working at a law firm?
A law firm is a type of business run by a group of lawyers to provide legal services to their clients. Some law firms specialize in a particular area of law while others work on a case-to-case basis.
The work environment is different in every firm, but it sure comes with a level of pressure. You’ll be doing a lot of research for every case.
You’ll also be working under tight deadlines. Most firms won’t allow much room for errors, even for beginners.
But still, working at a law firm does have a lot of rewards. For one, the salary is quite high. You’ll also gain significant experiences and connections that would help you along the way.
We’ll dive more into the pros and cons later. For now, here are the different types of law firms.
Types of Law Firms
There are different types of law firms depending on size, practice area, and nature.
Size: Small Firm vs. Large Firm
Small law firms (also sometimes called boutique law firms) are those that have less than 20 or 30 attorneys working for them.
These are usually general practitioners—working on different practice areas depending on the case. There are small law firms that only work on specific areas, though.
Large law firms, on the other hand, can have as many as 100 lawyers working for them, excluding legal assistants and other administrative staff.
There are several departments in a large law firm working on specific practice areas of law.
Practice Area: Criminal Law? Appellate Law? Corporate Law?
Firms working on criminal law handle cases as small as parking fines to cases as big as murder. Lawyers in criminal law firms can work either to defend or prosecute the accused.
Appellate law firms work with clients who have lost cases in lower courts and want to appeal them to higher courts. Challenging a court decision requires solid arguments and evidence.
Lawyers would need to do more thorough research on the case.
Corporate law firms work on the legal aspects of businesses. Clients of corporate law firms often ask for legal advice on how to keep their business running.
Others also ask for help in selling their business.
These are only some of the practice areas of law. Other areas include employment law, family law, real estate law, and so on and so forth.
Nature: Litigation vs. Transactional
Litigation law firms mainly represent their clients in commercial, civil, or criminal disputes. They often appear in court to protect their client’s interests.
Transactional law firms work with the involved parties outside the courtroom. They negotiate with the involved parties to reach an agreement. They also give advice to their clients in monetary transactions.
Pros of Working at a Law Firm
Working at a law firm provides stability. Because you’ll always have clients to work with, the workload would be more consistent.
Salaries at law firms are often enough to get you by. The average hourly wage for professional law services in Canada is $37.38 whereas the average hourly rate in Canada is $26.92.
Resources and Networks
Working at a law firm provides the necessary resources that could help you defend your assigned cases better. Most law firms would have references that you can use when you do your research.
Your colleagues could also provide assistance and advice to help you win your cases.
Networks are also a key advantage of working at a law firm. You’ll be dealing with a lot of different people as you work on cases.
This would give you the opportunity to establish significant connections with other experts in the industry.
Most law firms offer training that helps you improve your skills. You could even pick up new things along the way from all the opportunities that the job gives.
Whether you’re working for a small or large law firm, you’ll definitely encounter a lot of chances to learn things that private or solo practices would not be able to provide you with.
Cons of Working at a Law Firm
Long Work Hours
The typical 9-to-5 is usually not enough to get things done for people working at a law firm. It involves a lot of research and reviewing of documents even outside work hours just to get things done in time.
Working at a Law Firm Culture
Law firms have a fast-paced work environment. There’s also the constant pressure to do well since you’re carrying the name of your firm in every case you work on.
If you’re not used to being micromanaged, you might not enjoy working at a law firm. Your superiors will closely monitor your performance, especially when you’re just starting out.
You might want to prepare yourself to be on the receiving end of their criticisms.
The legal industry is highly competitive. Besides working against other law firms, you’ll also be working against other lawyers as well.
You’ll have to be able to prove that you have the skills and that you can adapt to any changes.
Is Working at a Law Firm Right For You?
Law firms provide great opportunities that a private practice might not be able to give you. Similarly, it also has risks and disadvantages that the other might not have.
The right thing to do is to weigh all these pros and cons and decide if working at a law firm would be better for you.
Check out some law firms in your area to get an idea of what you might be working with.
Again, here’s what it’s like working at a law firm:
Law firms differ in size, practice area, and nature. Be sure to explore all these aspects to find the right law firm for you.
Law firms offer stability in terms of workload and salary. You’ll always have clients assigned to you. You’ll also earn enough to get you by.
You get valuable resources and networks that could help you later on.
Its likely that you will also improve your skills and learn a lot of new things.
You will experience long work hours in most law firms, but the rewards of the job will be worth it.
Law firms are fast-paced. Prepare yourself for the amount of pressure you might experience.
Working at a Law Firm
You’ll have to compete with other professionals in the industry to prove your worth. Be a critical thinker. Adapt to the changes you encounter along the way.
If you are an aspiring law student or a recent graduate then the question of whether to work in a law firm or not is probably on your mind.
Furthermore, If you are looking for ways to learn more about the work culture at law firms then you have landed in the right place.
Greater opportunities and knowledge
Whether you are a Canadian immigration attorney or specialize in family law or different types of law, working at law firms can offer you greater opportunities and knowledge.
You can learn about various aspects of the law especially if you are a fresher or graduate who has no idea how to begin your legal practices.
Your work experience can vary from firm to firm and the size of the firm you are working with.
Here in this article, we will walk you through some of the vital factors about law firms and the benefits and typical work environment at different types of law firms.
What is a law firm?
A law firm is a business organization that consists of professionals that provides legal services to various kinds of clients.
At times a law firm specializes in only one type of law whereas others can offer legal services to different types of laws in one place.
The primary object of law firms is to advise clients about their legal rights and obligations, and represent their clients in civil or criminal cases, and other related legal matters.
Law firms hire attorneys, lawyers, and administrative employees to support legal cases for individuals or their clients.
These professionals possess vast knowledge and skills in dealing with legal cases that fall under their field.
In law firms, you can be employed both as partners and associates depending on your level of expertise and responsibility within the firm.
As a fresher, you get an opportunity to learn from experienced lawyers and explore various aspects of the law.
Types of law practices
There are various types of law firms available in the market that handle different areas of law.
Depending on your preference and area of expertise you can opt for the size firm that suits your needs the best.
Here we have listed some of the common types of law firms available in the market.
Lawyers practicing in family law firms are known as family lawyers or attorneys. They specialize in issues that affect family structures and arrangements of individuals.
They provide legal services in divorce proceedings, custody arrangements, domestic abuses, adoption procedures, and other related family dispute cases.
Lawyers working in these firms also take on the special role or part in handling legal proceedings of juveniles.
Working at a Law Firm In Criminal law
Criminal lawyers working in law firms mainly operate in two areas such as defending or prosecuting individuals accused of committing a crime.
A criminal defence lawyer mainly seeks to uphold the personal rights of individuals as they undergo court trials and other legal formalities.
On the other hand prosecutors or district lawyers usually work to defend the state in order to convict a defendant by proving them guilty for a criminal act.
Real estate law
A real estate lawyer is responsible for preparing and reviewing documents related to real estate purchase agreements, title documents, transfer documents, and mortgage agreements.
They provide legal representation and counsel for real estate contracts and court proceedings that involve property rights and property ownership.
They also provide legal services to tenant and landlord disputes or legal rights.
Working at a Law Firm In Personal injury law
Personal injury lawyers or law firms mainly deal with cases where individuals or clients make a claim regarding medical trauma that they have undergone due to an accident or other injuries.
Personal injury lawyers mainly deal in lawsuits against product liability, workplace injury, automobile accidents, and more.
Benefits of working in a law firm
Now let us look at some of the top benefits of working in a law firm.
1. Job security
Unless there is an absolute crisis in the nation or you have violated any code of ethics, company regulations, or done an offensive act you won’t be asked to leave the firm you are working for.
Job security at legal firms is extremely high and stable for most lawyers. If this is your first year of practice then law firms can be the ultimate option for you.
2. Diverse client base
If you are planning to work in an existing or reputable firm then you might come across opportunities to interact and work for different types of clients.
Client diversity can help you acquire a broader range of experience and gain knowledge to the next level.
This you also get an opportunity to travel to different places across the world to serve legal services to international clients.
3. High salary
Large or big-size firms often tend to offer a high salary to their employees compared to small-size firms.
However, in some cases, small firms can also offer you a high salary depending on your work requirements and responsibilities.
You must make sure to do the appropriate research before applying for a job in small or big-size firms.
4. Fast career progression
Law firms usually operate on a robust infrastructure of resources from a both technological and networking perspective.
This helps the firm deliver results quickly and efficiently and stay updated on changes happening in the law. This also motivates employees to work harder and achieve greater milestones in their careers.
5. Access to training programs
Graduating from law school is solely not enough for you to undertake legal practices on your own.
Law firms help you shape and bridge the gap between knowledge and experience by providing you with legal training.
Training programs can help you develop your soft and hard skills and bring out the best version of yourself during the process.
6. Well-credentialed colleagues
Working in top law firms also provides you with an opportunity to interact and work with some best and most respected lawyers in the country.
This can improve your competitiveness and help you accomplish greater success in your career.
We hope with the help of this article you will be able to make mindful decisions while selecting the best law firm of your choice and field of specialization.
Author: Liam Abbott and Jeff Brown