Which law firm is right for me?

| Career Insights

Whether you’re starting your legal career as a trainee or looking to make a big move at Equity Partner level, it’s critical that you do your research and know that the firm you’re looking to join is the one that’s right for you. What are some of the ways you can do that? This article aims to explore a few of them.

 

Speak to them

The single best way for you to learn more about a firm and to draw your own conclusions from the impressions they give is to speak to them firsthand, rather than relying on third-party sources. There are a number of ways you can do this:
  • In-person events - attending industry events can be a great way to meet a broad variety of potential contacts: clients, recruiters, practicing lawyers, experts and more. If you’re looking to learn more about a specific or niche area of law, these types of events offer a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and to explore what opportunities are available.
  • Online - leveraging social media and cold-emailing are two great ways to learn more about a firm without having to leave your office or house to do so. If you’re already practising and concerned this may reveal the fact you’re searching elsewhere to your current employer, you can also be a bit more discreet in your information-gathering by simply following accounts of those you’re interested to learn more from, without having to speak to them directly.
  • Meeting for coffee - framing meeting others within a social setting, such as meeting for coffee, is a great way to relax the environment and to (hopefully) see others at their most relaxed and genuine. It can also be a great way to ask questions about all of the ancillary elements of changing roles - the location, local amenities, commute and more.
  • Scheduling a call - just 15 minutes on the phone with a connection in your network can open up a number of possibilities: advice, insights, referrals to other professionals and more. One of the best advantages to this approach is that it’s not constrained by location - you can network far beyond your jurisdiction and location, which is ideal if you’re contemplating a big move abroad!

Understand their competitors

When trying to paint a picture as to what a firm is all about, it can be really insightful to understand how their competitors are both similar and differ from each other as well. For example, two firms that may look the same at face value in terms of their core practice areas, size, salary and location can differ greatly on more minute details, such as their office culture, training opportunities, work-life balance and more. This can then allow you to compare ‘like’ opportunities and to evaluate if any other contributory factors - such as those listed above - swing your decision making in either direction.

Reflect on your experiences to date

If you’re struggling to picture what kind of firm or role you think you’d enjoy, analysing your past experiences to date can make for a great starting point. Go through your current CV and write down three things you really enjoyed about that role and three things you didn’t. Try to identify factors that spanned a significant amount of time or were consistent whilst you were working there, as opposed to a single moment or deal you worked on once in your tenure there. Doing so will help you identify your personal preferences in working styles and trends of what you’ve enjoyed at each role, which will in turn better your ability to identify firms/potential recruiters that can meet those needs in future.

Cast your net wide

It’s critical that you try to divulge your information and impression about a firm from a broad variety of sources. Being overly reliant on one source - be it a personal connection or internet research - opens you up to the possibility of the information you’ve sourced being inaccurate, outdated or perhaps skewed by personal bias/perception. Read around any rumours you hear or claims that the firm makes in order to make sure they’re substantiated and accurately reflect the nature of the role or workplace you’d be joining. For instance, collecting information on a firm may entail researching the firm's profile on an external legal job site or by connecting with current members of the firm. 

Speak to recruiters

Finally, whether this be via legal recruitment agencies or in-house recruitment teams, recruiters and headhunters will have a significant grasp of the legal industry and the current job market, given that most of their day is spent talking to different firms and placing candidates in each of them. Asking them to summarise what firms offer and why others have joined them in the past can be a great way to get a second opinion beyond your own bubble, which you can feed into your decision-making process.
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