Working in a Large Law Firm: What Are the Challenges?

The path to becoming a lawyer is challenging. After receiving their undergraduate diploma, those who aspire to become members of the legal profession need to attend law school for four more years. After studying the intricacies of the law, they then have to take the exams before they get to practise law.

Good solicitors from firms in London, or anywhere for that matter, know what their options are if they wish to continue pursuing law. This is the result of their many years of experience in the field, and the network that they have built during that time.

New lawyers, on the other hand, are still trying to gain their footing. Some of them might prefer to take a much-needed break post-bar exams. Others will want to start their lengthy careers as members of the legal profession.

Depending on the law specialisation they want to take up, new lawyers have plenty of choices to choose from. Those who are fortunate enough to catch the interest of influential people in the field are likely to receive more opportunities, one of which is working in a large law firm.

Many lawyers, new or old, are beguiled with the prestige and respect associated with top-tier firms. However, it is often that most newbie lawyers do not take into consideration the many challenges that working in a large law firm has to offer.

Stricter Academic Requirements

Compared to more modest offices, top-tier law firms have a more rigid hiring process. After all, they only want to accept the best of the best. Usually, they hire those who are placed in the top percentile of their batch. Some law firms are also exclusive in their hiring process, and only select candidates who come from prestigious law schools, such as Oxford, Harvard, and Yale.

Long Hours

It is common knowledge that lawyers work long hours — even longer for those who are newly hired and are still trying to establish themselves. Additionally, should the firm land a case that is considered quite difficult compared to most, most members are required to put in more efforts, especially associates and junior partners.

Billables

The salaries of lawyers do not come directly from their billable hours. However, most firms have a set quota for their attorneys to meet per year. Typically, the hours range from 1,700 to the upper 2,000s. This entails that most lawyers have to work minimum 60 hours a week, a combination of their billable and non-billable hours, to meet the requirement. Also, while the base salary is not influenced by billable hours, it is more likely for new lawyers to be laid off if they do not meet the quota.

Lack of Client Interaction

lawyer with his injured client

In larger firms, senior partners are the ones who regularly meet up with the clients. This is perceived to be a privilege they have earned after putting in thousands of hours for the benefit of the firm.

The competitive atmosphere in larger law firms, partnered with the responsibilities and challenges, may be overwhelming to newly licensed lawyers in the beginning. Despite this, many take up the challenge in hopes of thriving within the firm, and earning the prestige that most lawyers so desperately desire.

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