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Author Topic: Small Town Firm-Should I?  (Read 3214 times)

scooby21322

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Small Town Firm-Should I?
« on: May 26, 2010, 05:04:05 PM »
I was recently granted an interview at a small, 2 man firm out in the middle of nowhere.  While I could do this for awhile, I do want to work in a bigger town/city eventually.  Would it be a bad move to consider this firm?  Can you go into a bigger city after working there? What would all of you do? Advice would be appreciated. 

scooby21322

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Re: Small Town Firm-Should I?
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2010, 05:14:22 PM »
I should add that I just graduated cum laude (3.26) from a lower T2 school.  Will I have better options?

bigs5068

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Re: Small Town Firm-Should I?
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2010, 05:15:33 PM »
You might as well go to the interview "unless it will be a cross country trip or something", but if it is a 2-3 hour drive you should definitely take a day of your life do your best on the interview and feel out the place.  Maybe you will love what they do and you can get some good experience.

A lawyer I worked for in L.A. graduated from Williamette and ended up working in Siskiyou County/ a shi**hole of a county in a two person firm and he had all kinds of business, because no lawyers work in Siskiyous county, but in a county of about 100,000 people there are bound to be problems and with only 20 to 30 lawyers in the area they were all  flooded  with business and he got a lot of experience and paid off his loans easily by living in a dirt cheap town for a few years. Once his loans were paid off and he had some money in the bank and experience under his belt  he moved to L.A. and is doing quite well for himself. I am sure there are other examples of people being stuck in a small firm in the middle of nowhere for the rest of their life. You never really know what is going to happen, but I would definitely show up to the interview and see what they are about and if you can handle the town and the job.


Thane Messinger

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Re: Small Town Firm-Should I?
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2010, 05:46:22 PM »
I was recently granted an interview at a small, 2 man firm out in the middle of nowhere.  While I could do this for awhile, I do want to work in a bigger town/city eventually.  Would it be a bad move to consider this firm?  Can you go into a bigger city after working there? What would all of you do? Advice would be appreciated.

Scooby -

I would agree with big . . . an interview is a good chance to at least practice, and who knows, you might actually like the partners, practice, and even area.  The concern is your statement that you would like eventually to work in a city.  Ask yourself why this is true.  Is it because of the money?  If so, you'll likely do better in a small-town practice, not just because of the relative dearth of practitioners, but because homes cost one-fourth what they do in cities.  Smaller firms are also much nicer places to work, on average, and offer faster routes to first-chair and to partnership.  (As to whether this would pidgeonhole you, yes and no.  It really depends on the practice and on you--both on what you make of it and on your long-term preferences.)

We seem as professionals to have city-on-the-brain.  For many it simply isn't the best life.  Is it because of family, dates, or personal preference?  If so, those are fair considerations, and if you're absolutely opposed, that would be be just about the only reason not to waste their or your time.  Otherwise, it would be a bad move not to consider all options.

Good luck in the interview,

Thane.

Thane Messinger

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Re: Small Town Firm-Should I?
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2010, 05:52:59 PM »
I should add that I just graduated cum laude (3.26) from a lower T2 school.  Will I have better options?

Another point is the jurisdiction.  Do you know which city or area is your real favorite?   If you do know, it would make sense to start practice in that state, especially if your first firm is willing to pay for your bar review and fees (as they should).

If, for example, you absolutely, positively know that you will end up in, say, Butte, Montana, a tiny firm two hours away on the Montana side of the border makes more sense than a similar firm on the other side of the border. 

That is, unless you like taking multi-day exams.

scooby21322

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Re: Small Town Firm-Should I?
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2010, 07:32:31 PM »
Well, I'm already taking barbri (which b/c of no job I'm paying for myself).  I'm already committed to take the bar in the state.  I'm perfectly fine with being limited to this state for 5 years until I can get reciprocity.  So the location of it is fine, other than it's not near much. 

My concern about the location is that I think that there will be NOTHING to do.  It's not a career concern as much as it is a lifestyle concern.  Also, I'm interested in doing a specialized kind of law (more of a policy/public interest kind of thing) later on, which would mean I would need to get close to a capital or a city that has options with that kind of work.  But, that's further down the line. 

I can see benefits to this job.  It will pay decent, which will get me through the bad economy.  It'll provide me good experience in a more slow paced enviornment.  My only concern is I wouldn't want to live there forever.

Anyway, for a number of reasons, I want to be near something big eventually.  I'm not in a hurry for that, but I also don't want to take a job which will limit what I can do later on.



(On a side note, how normal is it to go from one law job to another?)

bigs5068

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Re: Small Town Firm-Should I?
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2010, 07:51:19 PM »
I think it is very common for lawyers to transfer jobs. The few firms I worked at as a paralegal (I am only in transition from 1L to 2L so I am not a lawyer at the moment so take any advice I give with a grain of salt.) However, the attorneys I worked under had  numerous jobs prior to ending up where they did and some of the lawyers I worked  for left for other positions. Once you have a few years of experience it is pretty easy to move around. 

Your certainly not locked into a town forever as long as your a member of the state you can go anywhere in the state you are in. A shi**hole town in California follows the same procedures and laws as L.A. or San Francisco and whatever California laws and practices you learn in the Shi***hole it will transfer to L.A. or San Francisco. I don't know what state are you in, but the same logic applies to every state. 

As Thane said you can probably make a lot of money and get your loans down in a small town, once you don't have financial pressures you can really find your dream job.  Just my opinion though.

cooleylawstudent

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Re: Small Town Firm-Should I?
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2010, 08:42:59 PM »
Some firms do have "do not compete" clauses, but I think the largest legally enforcable one is within a 50 mile radius for 5 years.

Is this small town within an hours drive of a place you'd want to work?

bigs5068

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Re: Small Town Firm-Should I?
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2010, 09:02:55 PM »
Those aren't enforceable in California.  I imagine if it is in the middle of nowhere it is more than 50 miles from anywhere scooby would want to work, but it could be a factor. 

Thane Messinger

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Re: Small Town Firm-Should I?
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2010, 12:00:11 AM »

(On a side note, how normal is it to go from one law job to another?)

As always, there are a few important qualifiers.  As a general rule, changing law jobs is not like changing jobs for everyone else.  During the first few years of practice, there's not much concern by way of lateral transfer: much of the hire will relate to the same factors as in the initial hire, with the addition of skills obtained from the first job.  (Consequently, recommendations from partners is crucial.)  As elsewhere, transfering "up" will be harder.

After those few years, additional concerns are posed--but the payoff is higher.  Those relate to the same questions of skill PLUS rainmaking.  In essence, which clients are likely to be loyal to you, and how much value will you add to the firm.

Yet one more qualifier, the more you practice, the more valuable your practice in that location and with that firm is . . . again on average.  And don't forget the ever-present danger of finding someone to settle down with (if, indeed, that hasn't already occurred).