Paralegals: Would You Rather Work in a Small or Large Law Firm? Why?

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We asked two paralegals if they would rather work in a small or large law firm. They both had different opinions. We hope you enjoy their responses. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below the article.

I have been a paralegal for 10 years in Los Angeles. I have spoken to paralegal students on this very topic.

Personally, I prefer small firms. I briefly worked in a mid-sized firm and I know quite a few paralegals in large firms. What I found is that the paralegal work in larger firms is very specific for paralegals. For example, a paralegal might be stuck working only on responding to discovery and subpoena requests. Or they might only do trial prep. Or only corporate startups. That's all they do. Every day. These firms have a large volume of the same type of work so one person does one or two types of things. I also found that I felt somewhat of a cog in a machine. Sort of like I'm just a number. Victories in the cases you work on go to the attorneys, or the firm, but not a whole lot of recognition to the support team.

I currently work in a probate boutique firm. There are two attorneys and two paralegals. I have my hands in nearly every case we handle. I talk with clients, I prepare documents, I do legal writing and research. My day is never the same as the one before. Today I may be working on a probate matter. Tomorrow it might be conservatorship case or estate plan. All of these are handled in Probate Court. Also, I feel like a member of a team. Not just a cog in a machine. When the attorneys have a good day in Court, it means I did a good job and we all feel the victory, not just the attorney. The same with bad days in Court. When they do badly, it means that I wasn't supporting them enough. It's a real team.

Benefits and security will generally be better in larger firms. My big firm colleagues can bring in the bucks. But I don't think they feel the comradery the same as I do in a smaller team.

I guess you have to decide what's more important to you. Money and benefits, or a variety of tasks (less boredom with your work) and a closer spirit of team work. I enjoy going to work. I didn't when I was at the larger firm. So small is right for me.

-Kimberli A. Taylor
Conover & Grebe, LLP

I would rather work in a larger firm, simply because when you work in a larger firm you have more and better resources (when I say resources I mean things like computers, technology, software, scanners, etc., things that make the job easier, faster, and better). Also, when you work in a larger firm you can specialize what you do to an area of law that you like compared to being at a small law firm or with a solo practitioner where you would end up doing every kind of general practice law, which may include types of law you don't really like. I can imagine that if I worked with a solo practitioner, they would take on types of cases that I wouldn't enjoy doing, but would have to because you are working for that attorney that has to do the work. I like focusing on only what I like to do and I like being somewhat of an expert at one or several different types of law, not having to know everything and do every kind of law.

Sheri McNeill, Certified Paralegal
Brinkley Walser, PLLC

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