Small Firms: The who, what, where and how

Published: October 20th, 2008

Category: News, Students

Small FirmsDid you realize that the majority of our recent graduates heading to firms started their career with small to mid-sized firms? Why should you consider employment in a small firm as a career goal? Ever wonder what resources are available for you to tap opportunities with the largest employer of UF Law students? What should you be doing now?

Sixty-one percent of our recent graduates* obtained positions with law firms in general, and of those 59 percent started their career with a small to mid-sized firm (2-50 attorneys). The strong number of graduates who begin in small to medium-sized firms remains constant from year to year, so it is important not to overlook this rich source of employment opportunities.

There are many benefits associated with working in small firms. A student wanting to see the inside of a court room, work directly with cases and clients, or see a case to its completion should explore opportunities within the small firm sector. Small firms prioritize finding the right person as a whole for the position, over high academic performance as big firms do. Small firms are not as impacted by fluctuations in the economic market as big firms, who can “trim the fat” by terminating new associates.

Finally, small firm associates typically handle a variety of different cases. This is great for students who have not had a chance to discover their professional identity—who they want to be as a lawyer.

For more information about the benefits, rewards, and skill set needed to become a small firm practitioner, come hear Adjunct Professor Larry Marraffino a small firm attorney who teaches law practice management, speak at the program, “Focus on Small Firms,” in HOL 345 at 11 a.m. Food will be provided.

Tapping this market is very different than just searching the listings of OCI employers scheduled to visit, and our successful students utilize a variety of other resources to gain employment in this market. Many available jobs with small firms are shared by word of mouth and are unadvertised; therefore students must become resourceful in seeking out their choice position.

More typically these firms hire in the spring for part-time or summer positions, although some with more immediate needs hire on a rolling basis. A great place to start begins in Symplicity. New job postings received by Career Services are posted daily in Symplicity under the “Jobs” tab, as well as disseminated via the Hotline Listserv. Setting up a daily or weekly review of these lists, and reading all Career Services messages ensures an opportunity will not be missed.

Another important way that these positions are gained is through networking or being in the right place at the right time. Any chance to network should taken advantage of, i.e. joining the state or local bar associations, social events, even attending Continuing Legal Education classes. Students underestimate the importance letting employers know they are searching for a position; the best way to do this is to network.

An outstanding networking and learning opportunity will be The General Practitioner, Solo and Small Firm Section of the Florida Bar’s Small Firm Conference and Interview Program in Orlando on March 20-21.

In the meantime, learn more about small firm practice, plan your courses to gain skills-based training, research firms and geographical areas, get organized and have your materials reviewed by the CCS. Career Services can help hone your search, make an appointment today.

*Class of 2007: 415 graduates (Dec 2006, May and July 2007) as of Feb. 1, 2008