The legal industry offers a wide range of job opportunities for attorneys across both private companies and government institutions. Many attorneys have a targeted plan for the sectors they seek to work in but others may be open to different varieties of work. Regardless, there are several characteristics and unique benefits that can come with getting a foot in the door at a big law firm.
Large law firms (also known as mega-firms or big law) are typically the most competitive when it comes to hiring. As such, these firms are also known to offer some of the greatest perks.
Read on for some of the top benefits and advantages gained from working in a large law firm.
Big law firms are known for paying the most. In 2018, the median annual salary for a lawyer was $120,910, according to the Department of Labor. In 2019, big law firms exceeded that level by approximately $35,000 for first-year associates. Big law firms often also have the resources to offer more comprehensive and substantial compensation packages including health care plans, wellness plans, reimbursements, and stock options.
Competitive hiring at large law firms means a collective workforce of highly accomplished, successful, and credentialed colleagues. Large law firms have shown they are willing to pay employees more and this filters to all levels of the firm often resulting in some of the most talented lawyers, paralegals, administrators, and operational professionals in the industry. Typically, large law firms will recruit from the best law schools in the world resulting in a full roster of lawyers and employees with prestigious credentials.
Sophisticated, Challenging Work
Large law firms are known for winning some of the most elite cases. This often results in high profile representation on sophisticated, complex matters. This can give lawyers at large law firms a wide range of superior experience. This also provides an intellectually challenging environment for law firm attorneys and paralegals. These firms attract high profile class action suits that require strong, large staffs to manage and try in court.
Large, Diverse Client Bases
The clients of large law firms tend to be more plentiful and diverse than those of smaller firms. A large, diversified client base makes it less likely that the firm will encounter financial difficulty if a client takes its business elsewhere.
Diversity can also add to a broader range of experience and knowledge. Moreover, many of the mega-firms have multi-jurisdictional practices and multiple locations across the globe, allowing lawyers and paralegals to serve international clients as well.
Extensive Firm Resources
Large law firms are usually built out with a very robust infrastructure of resources from both a technological and collective networking perspective. Advantages may include mentoring, cross-referenced advice, comprehensive on-site copy and mailing centers, and in-depth research access.
Lawyers at big law firms also usually have the benefit of a comprehensive support staff for assistance including administrators, secretaries, proofreaders, project managers, paralegals, marketing specialists, documentation clerks, and more.
Luxurious Offices in Prime Locations
Large law firms often invest in luxurious offices, usually located in many of the world’s legal and business hubs. Buildings are typically spacious, easily accessible, and built with many added amenities such as full-service cafeterias, in-house gyms, restaurants, and elaborate meeting rooms for clients and recruits.
Well-Developed Training Programs
Large law firms often invest in comprehensive training and mentoring programs for all of their employees and specifically the lawyer base. Examples of these training programs may include elaborate summer associate programs, new employee onboard training, in-house educational programs, support for continuing education, groups for various initiatives, and a variety of sessions for continued growth and learning opportunities.
Significant Advancement Opportunities
Many large law firms are based on clear organizational hierarchies with defined opportunities and milestones for advancement. This can lead to more opportunities for growth as well as clearly defined steps for promotion. Many lawyers enter a big law firm with a long-term career plan that includes a progression from several associate and partner levels, ultimately becoming a senior partner.
Pro Bono Initiatives
Large law firms frequently establish pro bono and public service programs that encourage lawyers and paralegals to commit a certain number of hours to help the community and under-served populations, such as children and the elderly. This can be helpful because many bar associations require ongoing pro bono participation for membership.
Large law firms get a lot of attention in the legal industry and their company names are associated with a certain level of prestige. This is usually justifiable given the sophisticated caseloads, credentialed case teams, superior training, and publicized thought leadership.
Oftentimes, large law firms are highly regarded for their name brand as well as the many high-profile clients and complex cases they are involved with. Comprehensively, name recognition can look very good on a resume if lawyers decide to move on to other opportunities.