All Legal Jobs Are Not Created Equal

Whether you have just passed the bar exam or have been practicing law for years, keep in mind that every legal job has its own unique situation. Not every job will be right for every job seeker, but there are indicators that can guide you in determining which job offer be a good fit for you.

The Interview

Liz Ryan, an HR expert, gives ten reasons you should run away from a job offer. Asking to read the employee handbook at your interview, prior to receiving a job offer, is her first tip. Reviewing that handbook in order to see how the company operates and handles situations with its employees is crucial according to Ryan. If red flags appear when reading company policies, working at the company will probably be worse. Refusing to provide a copy of the handbook for your review should send you running out the door, never to return. Employees that do not stay long at the firm, low office morale, and lack of teamwork are other symptoms of a toxic work environment.

In contrast, employees that seem content, enjoy their work, and remain with a firm long term indicate a position that is most likely worth your consideration.

The Offer

The interview is over, the employee handbook is reviewed (and did not scare you off), and the job offer from the law firm arrives. What next?

In an article by Veronica Pawlowski, she discusses several considerations when evaluating a job offer: location, salary, level of responsibility, type of practice, the dynamics of the firm, and whether or not the job has long-term potential. Most of these are fairly self-explanatory and are generally helpful for evaluating job offers in most professions. Pawlowski believes, however, that for lawyers, the long-term potential of a job is crucial. In her opinion, “…the more moves a law firm employer sees on the resume, the less likely they are to consider the candidate for a position.” This makes each career decision that an attorney makes critical.

The Decision

Salary and employee benefits are in-line with the market value of the position. You love the location and the firm culture. The practice area interests you and the firm has long-term potential. The final consideration in the decision-making process should be to evaluate or reevaluate your career and personal goals. Because while the salary and benefits package are important components to consider, many employees desire some level work-life balance. Sure, there are going to be billable hours and lots of deadlines in most legal careers, but if you are required to work and bill more hours than you have in a day, the position might not be worth taking. Many firms offer some flexibility. There are even positions without billable hours.

Ilana Kowarski, an expert in the legal field, suggests speaking to current attorneys, legal educators, and recruiters to get helpful tips for law students and attorneys to find careers in law that are in line with their idea of work-life balance.

The practice of law is both a challenging and fulfilling career. Due to the demands of the profession, when considering any job offer with a law firm, salary and benefits are just the beginning. Current goals should be evaluated to be sure that the culture and demands of the position are in line with those goals. Depending on where you are in life, that same job opportunity that seemed like a perfect fit might actually be the exact opposite.

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