Capitalism is powerful, and it pervades virtually everything we do. Nowhere is this more evident than on the streets of New York City. On every block, there is a vendor, and commerce spills out into the intersections. Vendors selling hot dogs or coffee can be found on seemingly every corner. In addition, unlicensed vendors of all kinds dot every street. On Canal Street, vendors line the sidewalks selling fake designer purses, cologne, and other goods. Billboards are everywhere. People stand around pushing flyers in your face as you walk by them. In addition, block after block, you will come across shops and restaurants that have lost their leases or are going out of business. This is a very expensive city in which to do business, and not many people are able to make it. The people who live in this city give up many of the things many Americans take for granted, such as yards, multiple bedrooms, and kitchens with room to sit down and eat.
This kind of raw competition reflects the drive of capitalism, and it has captured the hearts and minds of most attorneys in the United States. Nowhere has this been more evident to me than in the field of legal recruiting. Out of the hundreds of candidates I have represented over the course of my career, I cannot think of a single instance in which a candidate chose a position in a smaller or less prestigious firm over a position in a larger, higher-paying, and more prestigious law firm. Most attorneys seem to value the lure of money and prestige above all else.
This article will take a hard look at what life often means in a large law firm and at what it often means in a small law firm. A well-picked smaller law firm often offers the following benefits that a larger law firm does not: 1) more opportunities, 2) more interesting work, 3) more responsibility, and 4) more room to build self-confidence.
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Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays
You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts
You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives
Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.