Law Students and Young Lawyers

Some Stuff Matters. Some Not So Much.

This is for the young folks looking for jobs in private practice early in their careers. Here is what matters and what does not matter so much. Ignore this at your own peril (and I am sure that a great many of you will both ignore it and eventually be in peril.)

Very Important

1.            Firm culture:

a.     Ethics.

b.     Integrity.

c.     Gender equality.

d.    Racial equality.

e.    Hours of work expectation.

f.     Respect for all team members.

g.    Sharing of expertise among team members.

h.    Is it about more than the money?

i.     Policy on remote work.

j.     Do parents come back from parental leave and stay at the firm?

k.     Do Associates become Partners?

l.      Do Partners stay at the firm?

2.            Is your supervising lawyer a good human being?

3.            Does your supervising lawyer support the firm culture or operate as a silo?

4.            Is your supervising lawyer a good mentor?

5.            Does your supervising lawyer care about your career path or just getting their work done?

6.            Exposure to clients.

7.            Responsibility for entire files.

8.            Support to build your own client base.

A Bit Less Important

1.            Is there room to grow professionally?

2.            Area of practice.

3.            Degree of specialization not too great.

4.            Degree of specialization not too little.

Even Less Important

1.            Salary.

2.            Benefits.

3.            Perks.

4.            Physical location of the firm.

5.            Size of the firm.

Not Important at all

1.            Prestige of the firm.

2.            Title

I asked Louise Woollcombe of Sterling Legal Search and Beth Mountford of Smith Legal Search for their help commenting on the draft of this article and confirming that I am not crazy (at least as regards the contents of this article. I do understand that neither of them can provide a psychiatric diagnosis.)

They both agreed on my “Very Important” category, but there were some murmurings that perhaps more importance could be attached to choosing your practice area, prestige of the firm, and even compensation. Allegedly (and surprisingly), there is a subjective element to all of this and my views may not be absolutely correct every time. Even if I think that they are.

A version of this article was originally published by Law360 Canada, part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.

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