Some Stuff Matters. Some Not So Much.

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By Murray Gottheil | July 16, 2023

This is for the young folks looking for jobs in private practice early in their careers. Here is what matters and what does not matter so much. Ignore this at your own peril (and I am sure that a great many of you will both ignore it and eventually be in peril.)


1. Firm Culture

  • Ethics.
  • Integrity.
  • Gender equality.
  • Racial equality.
  • Hours of work expectation.
  • Respect for all team members.
  • Sharing of expertise among team members.
  • Is it about more than the money?
  • Policy on remote work.
  • Do parents come back from parental leave and stay at the firm?
  • Do associates become partners?
  • Do partners stay at the firm?

2. Is your supervising lawyer a good human being?

3. Does your supervising lawyer support the firm culture or operate as a silo?

4. Is your supervising lawyer a good mentor?

5. Does your supervising lawyer care about your career path or just getting their work done?

6. Exposure to clients.

7. Responsibility for entire files.

8. Support to build your own client base.


1. Is there room to grow professionally?

2. Area of practice.

3. Degree of specialization not too great.

4. Degree of specialization not too little.


1. Salary.

2. Benefits.

3. Perks.

4. Physical location of the firm.

5. Size of the firm.


1. Prestige of the firm.

2. Title

I asked Louise Woollcombe of Sterling Legal Search and Beth Mountford of Smith Legal Search for their comments on this article by way of confirming that I am not crazy (at least as regards the contents of this article, but I do understand that neither of them can provide a psychiatric diagnosis.)

They both agreed on my “Very Important” category, but there were some murmurings that perhaps more importance could be attached to choosing your practice area, prestige of the firm, and even compensation. Allegedly (and surprisingly), there is a subjective element to all of this and my views may not be absolutely correct every time. Even if I think that they are.

Murray is a happily retired lawyer who lives in the country, drives a pick-up truck, writes, teaches and mentors. You can reach him at [email protected] or see what he is up to at


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