Is Solo-Small Better Than Big Law?

The economic legal landscape is still bleak compared to a few years ago, but more and more attorneys are considering going solo for a variety of reasons. Whether you are in law school or considering jumping ship from a big firm, is having a solo practice better than working for big law?

Do you like having a boss?

If you hate taking orders and like making your own decisions, solo is probably a better fit for you. Some people, however, are terrified at the prospect of handling everything on their own. While there are certainly ways to generate a supportive group of other attorneys, making all the calls is just not in some people’s bloods.

From what I have heard, big law usually involves not only a boss, but multiple bosses. I do not know how that works, and I do not want to know. Hang your own shingle and call your own shots. In the alternative, you can always work at a small firm, where you can have a great boss who lets you run your cases and generally lets you do your thing (wink wink).

Do you like having a life?

I have read about some great big law firms that celebrate having a life and want all employees to have lives. Frankly, I think I know one person who works at one of those firms.

Many partners and associates leave big law because they want more of a life. Nearly everyone I know who has left big law says that and they also say making the switch was worth it. Many of them make less money, but they say the trade off is worth it.

Whatever career path you head down, make sure you research and talk with people in both situations. Being a lawyer is a tough job, and finding the right situation for you will make it worth it.



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  • M

    You make an interesting point, big law may be for some and not others. When people are making the decision as to whether they want to work at a large law firm, or for a small one, they must weigh all the possibilities. Having a family that likes to travel together is probably not conducive to working at a big law firm. However, if you are coming right out of law school, and do not have a family, big law might be the right choice for you. This is a very tough decision and it can affect the rest of your life. There seems to be a rising trend in starting your own small firm, which is why I recommend doing as much research as you can. Both sides have their ups and downs.