Law Firm Support Infrastructure Matters — Choosing the Right Fit
When attorney-candidates consider a job placement — whether in Biglaw or in-house — they do not always comprehensively evaluate their options. Most (at the very least) will try to assess the essentials: whether the target organization has a favorable reputation among working attorneys, the likelihood of the attorney-candidate growing within the organization and reaching the next level in their career, and the particularities of the various duties and responsibilities that will be imposed after being hired.
Few candidates consider the influence of support personnel and infrastructure on the appeal of the position and on day-to-day quality of life. Attorney-candidates would be remiss to ignore this aspect, however, as the importance of support personnel — such as paralegals, secretaries, and various on-staff experts — and critical support infrastructure (including digital infrastructure for project management) cannot be understated.
Let’s take a brief look at Biglaw trends in support spending, and how this organizational aspect is worth serious consideration by attorney-candidates interested in making the transition to a new firm.
Biglaw Spending Has Shifted Considerably
Over the past decade, the Biglaw industry has seen its share of dips, dives, and crashes, and has been carefully reconstructed. A number of trends have effected Biglaw firm organization and spending: mergers, expansion of in-house departments, increasing specialization, and more. Though it’s not necessary for attorney-candidates to understand these trends in great detail, spending trends are relevant to understanding how to identify and secure job placements that are an “ideal fit” for the candidate.
Generally speaking, larger Biglaw firms not only face greater outside competition from boutique firms and expanded in-house departments, but must also keep their costs under control as clients become more serious about auditing the “reasonableness” of the legal services they’re provided — simply put, Biglaw firm spending is being scrutinized quite a bit, internally and externally.
This tightening of the belt, so to speak, has forced Biglaw firms to cut certain programs and strategically reduce spending. Support personnel, entry-level attorneys, and related infrastructure are frequent victims of this slash-and-burn strategy. We are seeing many Biglaw firms rely increasingly on fewer attorneys to perform a range of tasks that would otherwise be handled by a team of support personnel (and junior attorneys).
How Deteriorating Law Firm Support Affects Attorneys
Reduced spending, budget cuts, and deteriorating support infrastructure in the Biglaw context has had an undeniable effect on the workplace experience for attorneys — though some might consider it an opportunity.
As a general rule, Biglaw attorneys must be more self-reliant than ever before. In some Biglaw firms, you will be required to perform extensive research on your own due to the limited presence of support personnel. Project management skills are rendered more valuable as a result. Attorneys who can effectively manage their projects (despite the support issues) can demonstrate their value to the organization.
Not all Biglaw firms have necessarily cut their spending with regard to support personnel and infrastructure. If you are not a “self-starter,” or if you have no interested in shouldering additional project management responsibilities, then you will fare better with a position at a Biglaw firm that has maintained a comprehensive support infrastructure. If you believe that you can effectively juggle those responsibilities, and that you might actually be able to do so more effectively than others, then it might be a sensible decision to transition to a Biglaw firm that has cultivated a “leaner” organization.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Legal Recruiter for Further Assistance
Biglaw has gone through a seismic shift in recent years as firms reallocate spending (in the wake of industry shakeups, particularly with regard to in-house expansions). Support personnel and infrastructure are often the first casualties of budget cuts intended to make a firm or other organization more “lean” overall. If you are transitioning to a new firm, then you’ll want to consider the influence of support infrastructure (or the lack thereof) on your ability to perform tasks efficiently and effectively.
Are you interested in exploring potential opportunities with Biglaw firms in California? We encourage you to contact our experienced Los Angeles legal recruiters here at Garb Jaffe & Associates. Each of our recruiters have a long and consistent track record of success in securing ideal Biglaw placements for attorney-candidates. We work closely with our clients from the very beginning of the recruitment process, helping with resume development, targeted networking, and overall application assistance.
Call (310) 207-0727 to speak with one of the legal recruiters here at Garb Jaffe & Associates about your potential job transition. We will evaluate your candidacy and help determine next steps.