7 Sep 2022


Law Firms: Large vs. Small

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Large Law Firm 

Working in a large law firm offers a favorable working environment for legal professionals. It comes with opportunities and a sense of prestige. Although it might appear as an attractive venture to work in such an organization, it has its fair share of drawbacks. Therefore, working in a large law firm has several advantages and disadvantages. 


The first advantage is the prospect of high remuneration. Large law firms are in a position to offer large salary and other allowances in comparison to the smaller ones. The reason behind this is that these firms have a better financial position. Other than the pay, it also offers excellent training opportunities due to the availability of a wide array of resources that could build on an individual's knowhow. Some of the aspects that improve training include literature materials and technological integration. 

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Additionally, most experienced lawyers and paralegal professionals are found in the big firms, thereby ensuring the availability of resource personnel who can facilitate the training programs. Furthermore, the vast size is advantageous because it allows the firms not only to attract but also retain some of the best human talents available in the legal profession. Such professionals would thereafter benefit the company because they would act as mentors to the young hires. 

The large firms also ensure that lawyers acquire the much-needed experience. Many clients would prefer to put their trust in the large firms, and this comes with a benefit to the young professionals who benefit immensely from a wide range of legal matters. Furthermore, the less experienced professionals are exposed to a variety of complex legal work that sharpens their skills and readies them for the real challenges in their careers. Furthermore, the availability of large support staff within the firms is advantageous to the legal professionals because it ensures that they have support and administrative support at their disposal. Some of the support employees that large law firms boast of include paralegals, legal secretaries, administrators, librarians, and messengers amongst many others. Also, most mega-firms enjoy a global perspective characterized by multi-jurisdictional practices. The Global perspective, therefore, ensures that lawyers get an opportunity to serve international clients (Rhode, 2014). 

An intellectually challenging environment acquired in a large law firm provides the lawyers and paralegals with the much-needed impetus for career advancement. Many people would also want to work in such organizations for the simple reason of prestige. Therefore, as part of the legal career progression, individuals would cherish the opportunity of attaining status in the professions. 


Despite the benefits, working in large law firms comes with several disadvantages. The lawyers and other legal professionals must contend with the long and irregular working hours. The professionals will also have to endure several inconveniences including working on the weekends, less sleeping hours, and shifts that begin early in the morning or end late in the evening. Success in such an environment will only be determined by the extent to which an individual copes with pressure and the huge amount of work. The second major con that comes with working in a large firm is the prospect of overspecialization. Many law organizations are compartmentalized in a bid to break down the legal work and ensure that work is undertaken more efficiently (Rivera, 2012). Although this could be a good thing for the clients, it might limit the professional advancement of young professionals who require grasping a wide range of skills and expertise. 

The formal atmosphere that comes with a huge law firm means that professionals must deal with official attire such as suits and ties which might not be popular with the young professionals. The competitive environment might be unfavorable to other individuals. Large firms come with a high degree of assignments, the need for promotion, and the quest to make profits. As such, this could lead to a demanding environment leading to stress and frustrations. The highly bureaucratized environment means that more control and focus depends on the hierarchical arrangement leaving the employees with little control over their work and professional futures. 

Small Firms 

Most attorneys in the private sectors are employed by small law firms. A small law firm is primarily defined as that which has less than 20 lawyers (Brock, Hinings, & Powell, 2012).Furthermore, it is important to note that almost half of those working in the private sector are solo practitioners. Working in a small law firm comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages. 


First, the professionals will engage in a relatively varied work. Lawyers here are regarded as generalists who engage in challenging work that cuts across a broad spectrum of subjects. It is in direct contrast to the extensive level of specialization required in the big farms. Another significant advantage that comes with working in a small legal organization is that the work schedules are flexible and above all favorable. Brock, D., Hinings, & Powell, (2012) noted that there is also a massive sense of teamwork and camaraderie which enhances balance when dealing with tasks. The relatively lower workload means that the odd-hour shifts will almost be nonexistent. Also, the legal employee has more opportunities to achieve greater control in the management and direction of the organization. 

Younger professionals are more poised to gain hands-on experienced important in the latter stages of their careers. The attorneys and paralegal officers get an opportunity to perform many tasks with less supervision compared to their counterparts within the large organizations. Although this could lead to massive errors, it offers an enabling environment for better learning. Client contact is another vital factor for the associated working in the small law firms. As such, it builds on their experience, in a manner that could not be achieved in the large organizations where clients are reserved for the senior lawyers. Professionals in the small law firms enjoy relaxed and informal atmospheres where the culture is favorable. In such an environment, dress codes are not formal, and socialization forms an important part of career development. It, therefore, means that individuals working in such law firms are much more likely to enjoy meaningful working relationships (Rhode, 2014). 


One of the major drawbacks of working in small law firms is lower compensation. Many of these organizations might not be in a strong financial position to pay the hefty amounts of remunerations that most legal professionals would want. Therefore, employees would have to contend with the relatively lower salaries and benefits that might not meet their needs. Also, working in small legal organizations might come with an extra implication especially when the projects and assignments are uncertain. With fewer clients, unpredictable working timelines would arise, and this might offer various inconveniences to the legal professionals. 

Small law firms might not provide the young lawyers and paralegals with the required exposure to perform at the highest level. It also denies them to meet some of the most experienced professionals for guidance and mentorship. Due to the shortage of funds, training and capacity building could be difficult to achieve thus hindering the career development of employees. Most fundamentally, the low levels of expectations in such organizations mean that the employees could have less motivation to meet their goals. The employees in such organizations do not enjoy extra benefits such as support staff members and contact with international clients. 


Brock, D., Hinings, C. R., & Powell, M. (2012).  Restructuring the professional organization: Accounting, health care and law . Routledge. 

Rhode, D. L. (2014). Foreword: Diversity in the Legal Profession: A Comparative Perspective.  Fordham L. Rev. 83 , 2241. 

Rivera, L. A. (2012). Diversity within reach: Recruitment versus hiring in elite firms.  The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 639 (1), 71-90. 

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