1. Careers
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Law Firm Life

A Guide to Working in A Law Firm

By

Multi-ethnic women looking at library reference book
Tanya Constantine / Blend Images / Getty Images

Three quarters of the one million-plus licensed attorneys in the nation work in private practice. Lawyers in private practice work in a law firm of two or more attorneys or in a solo practice.

Lawyers employed in a law firm work as partners, who share the firm's profits and risks, and associates - attorneys who have not reached full partnership status. Law firms also employ numerous other legal professionals including legal secretaries, law clerks, IT personnel, litigation support professionals, law firm administrators, marketing personnel, file clerks and legal nurse consultants.

Legal Practice Areas

Solo practitioners often operate as a "jack-of-all-trades," offering legal services in a broad range of practice areas. Legal professionals employed in larger law firms usually specialize in one or two specific areas of law. A few common legal specialties are:

Billing Time

Law firm professionals are charged with the onerous task of tracking every minute of their time in order to bill it to a client. Law firms frequently impose high monthly and yearly billable hour requirements upon partners, associates and paralegals, making law firm employment among the most demanding legal practice environments.

These tips can help you become a more effective time-keeper and contribute to the firm's bottom line:

Long Hours

Law firms are also notorious for requiring long work hours from its employees in order to raise revenue. However, while 50 to 80 hour work weeks are common in some law firms, not all firms are sweatshops. Each firm has its own unique culture and work requirements.

Work/Life Balance

In some cases, the time demands placed upon law firm professionals limit their ability to pursue outside interests. A recent survey by the Texas Bar Association found that 18% of respondents would exchange lower compensation for fewer hours, provided that it would not affect their treatment, even if it affected their advancement. For more on work-life balance, see:

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.