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This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.

There is a paradox that young lawyers and law students find hard to grasp.

Where would you learn more in the initial years of your practice? In a big law firm or in a small law firm?

Conventional wisdom and expectation suggest that bigger the law firm, the more is the learning. Big law firms after all work on bigger and more complex matters, don’t they?

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The reality is quite different. Lawyers who work in smaller law firms early on learn a lot more and often are preferred by big law firms for lateral hiring because of the same.

How come?

I observed this phenomenon for the first time while working at Trilegal. A senior joined from Desai & Diwanji. There were others in the team who were in the same team right from the time they graduated. This new outsider however, was often given more responsibilities, because in his previous firm he had led transactions on his own. He had negotiated dozens of SHAs and BTAs. 

In Trilegal, at least from what I saw, you didn’t get to negotiate SHAs or deals until you had become a Senior Associate. However, the newcomer was called upon to help whenever there was a resource crunch and was allowed to lead negotiations when the team had run out of better options.  

It made sense, because he had the experience. Those who worked in big law firms for the same number of years right from the beginning didn’t have the same opportunity though. 

The same guy made partner a few years down the line, as I read in LegallyIndia. Many of the people from his batch who joined big law firms right out of the bat are still waiting to make partner even after 10 years.

And this is not unique. This is quite common.

Why does this happen?

In a big law firm, there are large teams and a lot of hierarchy. The meaty, juicy part of the work is always done by partners and senior associates. 

Junior associates are often left to do clerical staff – document review and summarisation for due diligence, proofreading and sanity check, preparing execution versions, creating tables and annexures that nobody will ever read, and sometimes they do compliances.

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You do not even know what is the entire deal at times. You just do what you are asked to do. 

You are a small cog in the wheel, doing your small part as a junior lawyer in big law firms.

There may be some teams that are different. There may be some law firms that manage to make it more engaging for junior lawyers, but most of the time its a lot of grunge work and very little learning curve as far as junior lawyers in big law firms are involved.

Sometimes you may wonder why you studied law for so long if all you have to do was making hundreds of pages of annexure by summarising contracts and hundreds of licenses. 

And then you realize, if someone is paying you so much for doing clerical work, and there is a possibility that in the future you will get your day in the sun as well, why not stick it out.

However, many young lawyers leave big law firms our of sheer boredom and lack of intellectual satisfaction. 

On the other hand, it is quite different in a small law firm. They do not have large teams, and they have to throw their junior associates into deal-making and negotiation early on. 

In smaller and mid-sized law firms, juniors are quite involved in every process and do not feel like an insignificant cog. 

They are often involved in everything from onboarding a client to billing them. The firm encourages them to begin leading deals as soon as they can. They handle client calls rather than just accompanying a senior associate with a pen and notebook in hand. 

That works better economically for smaller law firms. And that means the junior associate learns new skills earlier in life, which is a big advantage. 

So yes, this is a paradox. Those who join smaller law firms find themselves on a steeper learning curve and gain skills faster. 

However, the fastest way to acquire practical skills is to take up a course from LawSikho. What junior lawyers take 2 years to learn in a big or small law firm typically, we will teach that to you within 6 months to 1 year in our courses. 

Plus you don’t make mistakes in your real job when you have been trained by us.

Check them out, and schedule a call with us to know how it is possible:


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