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Big Firms vs. Small Firms

Major Differences

Interviews with large firms are very predictable. During on-campus interviews, large firms are not afraid to spend money on recruiting. They often try to impress candidates by printing marketing brochures, offering refreshments to the students, and interviewing in teams of two. Callback interviews at large firms are almost always on schedule, and even if someone cancels or is running late, the recruiter will take care of the issue so quickly, you will not even notice.

Interviews with small firms are less predictable, and you are subject to much more scrutiny. Furthermore, unlike large firms, small firms may not care as much about making their interviewees too comfortable. Rather, their goal is to ensure that the candidate's personality fits well within the firm. As a result, small firms often conduct interviews in a more thorough and unusual way that helps them decide whether a candidate will make a great attorney, and whether he or she possesses the required social skills to survive in the intimate environment of a small firm.

As a 1L, Adam attended a callback interview at a small New Orleans firm. This was his first callback interview; not knowing what to expect, he was prepared for anything—anything, that is, except the eight partners and one senior associate who met him in a windowless conference room, all jumping up to say hello and extending their hands the moment he came in. Although he was surprised, Adam was back on his feet a few seconds later, saying hi to everyone at once. Backed against the wall, he had nowhere to go but around the room. And so he did, shaking each of their hands in turn in a clockwise direction. He later learned he was the only candidate that day who passed the “back against the wall” test and received an offer.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsBig Firms vs. Small Firms - Major Differences, Big Firm, Big Budget, Smaller Firm, Smaller Budget