Small & Mid-Sized Firms
A firm is categorized as small, mid, or large based on the number of attorneys and offices it has. However, geographic considerations can be a factor. For example, in a small town, a firm of 10 people is likely the largest in the area whereas in a major city a firm of 10 is considered small.
Regardless of definition, the recruiting process of small and mid-sized firms differs greatly from that of a large firm. Most small and mid-sized firms do not hire eight or nine months in advance of the lawyer starting. Instead, these firms generally hire when they have an opening and depending on need, with the expectation that the hire will be able join the firm immediately.
So how do you get a job in a small law firm?
Demonstrate a real interest in the firms' practice areas. Smaller firms expect their new attorneys to have some experience in the fields they practice. Taking the relevant classes and getting hands on experience through an externship, a law clerk position, and/or clinic are all valuable methods towards getting an interview with a smaller firm.
Some smaller firms will hire law clerks who have worked for them during law school, usually for around a year. However, do not be discouraged if the firm you are working for does not offer you a position. Often law clerk positions lead to other opportunities within private practice. It is the experience you gain and the connections you make which will serve you well in your career search.
There are over 9,000 alumni in the Washington area, many of which work at smaller law firms. Many of these alumni are partners at their firms. By contacting alumni, you can build a base of people to help with job leads, inside information, and potential employment. OCPD and the Office of Alumni Affairs can help you find alumni in the areas in which you are looking.
An OCPD career counselor can help you craft your job search strategy, whether you are looking for employment in DC or outside of the Washington area. A counselor can also direct you to job search resources and websites that can help you in your search for employment at a small or mid-sized firm.
- JUMPSTART your Small, Medium Law Firm Job Search
- OCPD's List of DC Area Small and Mid-Size Firms, by Practice Area
- To access OCPD's list of New York Small/Mid-Size Firms, please click here to find it in the Documents list on the bottom right.