Where do you want to work? A major decision for many law students is whether they want to work at a “biglaw” firm or a small firm. Over time, small firms have become more prevalent and now employ a large percentage of attorneys in the U.S. For students considering working in a small firm, this book, “Small Firms, Big Opportunity: How to Get Hired (and Succeed) in the New Legal Economy”, by Linda Calvert Hanson and Samantha Williams is a great guide for making the decision of where to work, as well as giving an inside look at many aspects of the small firm.
The book begins by discussing some of the major advantages, as well as disadvantages, of working at a small firm. It also discusses some of the basic differences between the operation of a small firm and biglaw firm.
For those who have already determined that a small firm fits their needs better, this book offers helpful advice for getting a job. There is information including ways to go about searching for jobs, networking, writing cover letters and resumes, and tips for having a great interview.
Curious about daily life at a small firm? The third section of this book covers that topic. It includes information such as billable hours and interacting with associates and partners. My favorite part of the book talked about the “firsts” of working in a small firm: the first week, the first intimidating encounter, your first mistakes as a new employee, and your first hearings. The tips on how to handle these situations are great for minimizing stress for when each of these “first” actually occur.
Finally, the book talks about the “core competencies” for succeeding in a small firm. These are the qualities that the authors think are important for a successful attorney to possess. They include business understanding, associate skills, lawyering skills, and personal and professional development skills.
Overall, this book can answer many of your questions about working in a small firm and even includes some suggested resources in the back if you want more information!