While toying with the thought of working in private practice after law school I, like many law students, have tried to weigh the pros and cons of big firm practice versus small firm practice. Hours could be spent debating the differences between small and large firm practice, but one of the pros I usually associated with large firm practice has recently had some new light shed on it for me.
A pro of large firm practice I have often heard repeated is that they have interesting and complex litigation. So if you want to be a litigator, large firm practice has a lot to offer in the way of interesting and complex work. On the other hand it has been my experience that small firm practice is not viewed as providing the same experience with complex litigation. However, my summer employer, which is a small firm, pointed out to me that most large firms tend to be heavy on the defense side of litigation, whereas small firms tend to handle much more plaintiffs’ cases. It is also those same small firms who often bring litigation against the clients being represented by the large firms. It makes sense then that the small firm that has brought the action is handling an equally complex case as the large firm that is defending the law suit.
I have to admit that I felt a little silly for never making the connection that a large firm involved in very complex litigation necessarily means that the plaintiff’s firm, which often might be small, is handling an equally complex matter.
My own experience so far this summer has proven this to be true. The firm defending the case I am working on is a large very well known firm. I wish I could regale the facts involved, but suffice it to say that the case is rather complex with interesting and unique issues for the plaintiff and defendants alike. I would urge any law student who wants to do private practice not to write off small firms as an option simply because they think they have less interesting and less complex cases. Small firms are equally capable of offering a wealth of experience to law students.