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.
As a student ambassador I often hear applicants and newly admitted students ask current law students what their favorite law school experience has been. Without a doubt one of my favorite experiences has been participating in moot court, and I think it is something every law student should try before graduation.
Moot court competitions come in all shapes and sizes. But I think the ones that are the most fun are national competitions that include writing a Supreme Court brief and then later competing in oral argument. So what perks come from competing in a national competition , you ask? Well to start, it’s fun! Moot court experience is a great resume builder – it demonstrates writing experience and oral argument experience. Some competitions provide substantial cash awards, and being able to reduce school debt is always a nice perk. Moot court provides the opportunity to travel and experience fun cities. For example, I just returned from a weekend in Los Angeles where a classmate and I competed in the Williams Institute Moot Court Competition, and the CLLSA team is currently in New Orleans competing in the Hispanic National Bar Association competition. (As a quick aside I just got word that the team is advancing to tommorow’s quarter final rounds – congrats and good luck Jamaar and Claudia!!) Moot court provides the opportunity to network with peers from other schools as well as practicing attorneys and judges. It is a great way to get an in depth understanding of complex legal issues. Etc. etc.
I could rant endlessly about the benefits from competing in moot court. But I think it is also important for students to realize that moot court competitions can take a substantial amount of time and preparation. I realize everyone works at their own pace and some people are more efficient than others, but I have never heard someone who competes in national level moot court competitions say the preparation is easy. Before adding moot court to your plate I think it is wise to ask students who have competed before about their experiences and how they managed the work.
If you are willing to challenge yourself and put in the effort, moot court is incredibly rewarding and fun!
I was born and raised in Flagstaff and went to Cornell University for my undergraduate degree, studying animal science and biology. My interests are in law, science and technology. I am a second-year law student, and am on the Executive Board of OUTLaw and a member of the Chicano/Latino Law Student Association. I am also a Student Ambassador for the admissions office. I spent my first summer externing for The Hon. Mark Brain in Juvenile Court. This semester I am participating in the Diversity Legal Writing Program as an intern at Bryan Cave. I enjoy appellate advocacy, have participated in the Hispanic National Bar Association’s National Moot Court Competition, and will be competing at the Williams Institute National Moot Court Competition in March. I am also an avid runner and biker.