Q: I am a non-equity partner/senior associate in a mid-size firm. I’ve always done respectable work, but I’ve never been good at business development. I’m concerned that I am at risk of getting pushed out to make room for a younger, less-experienced lawyer at the firm. How concerned should I be?
A: In the current firm environment, you have every reason to be concerned. Although you have done respectable work as a non equity partner/senior associate, the fact that you haven’t developed … or perhaps been encouraged to develop … new business could put your position in jeopardy. You need to meet with the managing partner or partner in charge of your practice area to determine where they see you in this changing business environment. Also, since you have not brought in new clientele, you might want to consider a position in government, or in-house, or with a non profit institution organization.
– David E. Behrend, M.ED., director, Career Planning Services For Lawyers
Q: I make a good, six-figure income as a 4th year BigLaw associate, but I’m putting in sweat-shop hours … 2300/year. I’d like to move on when I’m able to pay off my school loans next year. But does it make sense to leave the firm … and all that goes with it … both good and bad?
A: This is tough one. Only you can decide whether a six-figure income is an appropriate trade-off for working 2300 hours to maintain your standing. Or whether the demands are so great that you would be better off applying your skills in a less demanding environment whenever you can pay off your loans. If your aim is to become a partner there in a few years, then do consult with the head of your practice area to determine if it is worth staying put. You do recognize that only a small percentage of partners ultimately become equity partners in the firm?
– David E. Behrend, M.ED., Director, Career Planning Services For Lawyers,
Q: I graduate this year. But with my grades/class standing, I’m not sure I can get a position in major or mid-size firm. What are my options in this economy?
A: Give serious thought to a position at a small firm, preferably in a non-major city. Once hired, you probably will get as much — if not more — of the client skills that your classmates get at a BigLaw firm. At this stage, your primary goal should be to build on your early experience and knowledge, recognizing that you will most likely move on. So, unless you already know what practice area you want (IP, personal injury, municipal law, etc.), I recommend working with a small firm where you have a generalist opportunity that can enhance your career.
– David E. Behrend, M.ED., Director, Career Planning Services For Lawyers, www.lawcareercounseling.com