I recently came across this highly entertaining and informative response to a post on Quora about the trappings of working in a big law firm. The comment thread is just as interesting and worth the read if you have 10 minutes to spare.

Many of the follow up comments suggest moving out of BigLaw into a smaller practice, with people citing their own experience as the best reason to make the switch.

My own working experience is somewhat similar. After moving from my first marketing job out of university to a global media conglomerate, it didn’t take long for me to realize working in a large, traditional corporate wasn’t for me. I simply didn’t find the sense of purpose or ownership that I craved. Since moving on I’ve been much happier working in a smaller, more progressive environment, where I get to speak to other entrepreneurial types and see the difference my work makes – within our company and with our small firm clients.

So, here are five reasons why bigger is not better when it comes to Law Firms.

1. See the difference you make

Working in a small firm means you get to spend your time with people in need. It’s not just about documents… you get to build relationships and see the human side of legal work.

2. Own your work

As an attorney in a small firm you are responsible for your firm’s success, and your own success. The fewer people there are in a firm, the greater the accountability and the rewards for each person.

3. More time for you

A career in law doesn’t necessarily mean saying goodbye to your weekends. Working in a small firm allows attorneys to get off the “billing treadmill” and often provides greater flexibility. It’s much easier to set boundaries with clients when you have a strong personal relationship with them, and it’s easier to be flexible on working hours in a smaller, more collegiate work environment.

4. No two days are the same

A job in a small firm may not be as stable as a job in a big firm, but its more varied. Solo and small firm attorneys often receive exposure to many different areas of law, even if the firm has a  narrow specialization. You can also get stuck into practice management, from IT to marketing to staff management. Some people love the challenge of running a business, and a small law firm provides that opportunity.

5. Shorter track to partnership

For ambitious young attorneys, being hands on and self-sufficient in a small firm means a faster rise to to the top, with less competition and politics in the way.

These are just some of the benefits of “working small”. If you’ve taken the plunge and started your own firm, or are part of a small team of legal practitioners serving your community – congratulations. You’ve got plenty to look forward to, and you might just be doing better than you think!

(Want to make your small firm more awesome? Check out Smokeball’s case management software.)

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