The competition to secure a post-graduation legal job – not to mention the personal and financial pressure – can be intense. As a result, you may feel obligated to accept any job available even though it’s far from an ideal position for you. As a new lawyer, getting practical experience of any kind is important, so you definitely don’t want to be too picky during your job search. But even at the beginning of your legal career, you should start thinking about the qualities you want your workplace to promote. Finding the best firm for you may ultimately be less about the area of law practiced and more about finding a place that is supportive of your career goals and shares your core values. As you’re searching for your first legal job (or considering a change), consider whether any of these workplace qualities are a priority for you.
Best Law Firms for Women
If you’re looking for a firm that supports female attorneys in leadership roles (as equity partners, branch office heads, committee members, etc.) check to see whether the firm received the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILF) Gold Standard Certification. You may also want to check out Yale Law Women’s Top Ten Female Friendly Law Firms, which considers factors such as partnership promotions and composition of leadership committees.
Best Law Firms for Working Mothers
Being a great law firm for women doesn’t necessarily translate into being family friendly. Juggling a legal career with motherhood presents unique challenges, but more and more law firms are making it possible to find a happy balance. Moms may be interested in checking out this list compiled by Working Mother which includes law firms that use “best practices in retaining and promoting women lawyers” and specifically takes into account whether a firm offers policies that are supportive of working moms, such as paid maternity/adoption leave, reduced or flexible work hours, and back-up childcare options.
Best Law Firms for Parents
Working dads often value family friendly policies just as much as working moms! In addition to their annual ranking of the Top Ten Female Friendly Firms, Yale Law Women also ranked the Top Family Friendly Firms. Recognizing that parental leave and schedule flexibility is not only a priority for mothers, Yale Law Women’s rankings evaluated the availability and use of these type of family friendly policies for both men and women.
Best Law Firms for Diversity
The firms on Vault’s annual list of Best Law Firms for Diversity know that a diverse and accepting workplace is an essential quality for many of lawyers (and clients)! Vault’s list is based on associate ratings of their firm’s effectiveness in fostering a diverse work environment. In addition to the overall rankings, Vault breaks its list down into subcategories that rank firms for diversity in relation to individuals with disabilities, minorities, women, and LGBT.
Best Law Firms for Big Money
No one will accuse you of being shallow if financial compensation is a high priority during your job search – a sizeable paycheck is a key motivator for many successful attorneys (especially if you racked up some student debt)! The yearly AmLaw 100 ranks the top law firms by profits per equity partner, gross revenue, and compensation per lawyer, amongst other categories. If the size of your starting salary is particularly important to you, you should also browse Law Crossing’s list of First Year Salaries and Bonuses at top law firms.
Law Firms with the Best Quality of Life
A big salary may bring prestige, but it won’t necessarily bring contentment. The overall quality of life that a firm provides is often more important to a successful long term career than financial compensation. Vault’s associate survey ranked the best law firms to work for based on a range of categories, including career outlook, training, office culture, work hours, quality of work, satisfaction, and compensation.
Most of these lists are limited to reviewing and ranking BigLaw firms based in major cities that are highly selective in their hiring, so don’t be discouraged if a job at one of these places doesn’t seem like a feasible option for you. Instead of just looking at the firms that made the top of each list, focus on the different categories that the lists evaluate. These lists can be a good starting point for you to consider when thinking about the workplace qualities are most important – diversity, family friendly policies, quality of life, etc. – so that you can find the best firm for you. And, if you need an expert to help sort through the career and job options, there are resources available.
For more helpful advice, check out these articles:
- Podcast Episode 142: Owning Your Career
- What I Wish Someone Told Me as a Young Lawyer
- Not Sure You Want to be a Lawyer? Consider Some Alternative Ways to Use Your J.D.
- How to Ace Your Law Firm Interview
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