Almost a quarter of all attorneys in private practice are employed in large law firms (law firms with over 20 lawyers), according to the American Bar Association. Roughly 14 percent of those lawyers are employed in law firms of 100 or more attorneys. These large law firms are sometimes known as mega-firms or Big Law.
Employment in a large law firm has unique benefits and challenges that set it apart from other practice environments. Below are fifteen advantages of working in a large law firm.
1. High Salaries
Large law firms rank among the highest paid practice environments for legal professionals and employees are often granted more generous compensation packages than those working in the government, judiciary, small firm, non-profit and public interest environments.
2. Well-Credentialed Colleagues
Since many large law firms pay top dollar, such firms can recruit the most well-qualified lawyers, paralegals and staff. Mega-firms often recruit only the top students from the most prestigious law schools. Paralegals in large law firms generally have bachelor’s degrees and experience in their legal specialty.
3. Sophisticated, Challenging Work
Much of the high-end, complex litigation and transactional legal work is given to large law firms which boast high-caliber talent and a broad range of resources.
4. Large, Diverse Client Base
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.
5. Extensive Firm Resources
Large law firms have more on-site resources than smaller firms. Large firm resources range from full-service copy centers and extensive law libraries to in-house gyms and full-service cafeterias.
6. Large Support Staff
A large law firm has extensive administrative and support staff at its disposal. Staff may include legal administrators, legal secretaries, paralegals, marketing specialists, IT personnel, file clerks, librarians, court filers and messengers.
7. Luxurious Offices in Prime Locations
Large law firm offices may offer more plush and spacious surroundings those of small firms, public interest firms and the government. Large law firm offices are generally located in prime areas of town, close to the courthouse, fine dining (to woo clients and recruits) and other amenities.
8. Global Perspective
Many of the mega-firms have multi-jurisdictional practices and multiple locations across the globe allowing lawyers and paralegals to serve international clients.
9. Well-Developed Training Programs
Large law firms often establish well-defined training and mentoring programs for associates, paralegals and other law firm professionals. Many large firms also have elaborate summer associate programs and in-house educational programs that provide continued growth and learning opportunities for its employees.
10. Significant Advancement Opportunities
Many large law firms contain complex organizational hierarchies creating more opportunities for promotion. For example, the career path of a lawyer in a large firm might progress from entry-level/junior associate to mid-level associate, senior associate, non-equity partner, equity partner and senior partner.