Practicing within a small to medium size law firm

metallic windows of city building

Working within one of the largest global law firms is something that some lawyers aspire towards. The associated prestige, potential for higher salaries and the subsequent benefits that are on offer can be just some of the enticing reasons for lawyers to practice in these firms.

Recently however, small-to-medium-sized firms are now offering an exciting selection of advantages, giving lawyers far greater incentives to join.


Working for a SME

For an individual who holds a preference for visibility within their firm, this can often be the environment of choice. Generally, working within a smaller firm can offer fast-track career progression, a higher likelihood to make partnership and increased levels of client interaction.

Additionally, there is a chance that smaller firms can provide a more flexible and relaxed environment which can produce significant benefits toward your work-life balance and flexibility in working hours. This however varies from firm to firm.

Smaller firms can provide a more flexible and relaxed environment which can produce significant benefits toward your work-life balance

Business development

Typically, smaller firms have less institutional clients that you would expect from a larger firm. Given this, you should expect far greater opportunities to develop business if you align yourself within area. As a rule, these smaller firms generally look for business associated skills over technical ones. So you will find you are much more likely to have opportunities open to you if you have a notable following and a business book to match.

Lower salary, less support

One of the key disadvantages that you may find in working for a smaller firm is the level of staff available to support you in your processes. Lawyers moving from a large firm may find certain elements of this challenging as processes can be quite different and you may find yourself doing laborious tasks which can consume large portions of your time.

Additionally, there may be certain limitations on your ability to network, which can ultimately amount in a significantly reduced salary.  

Key areas of practice

Typically you will find that smaller firms generally operate in the same key practice areas as larger firms. However, one of the key differences you will find is in the nature and the size of each deal. For instance, in bigger firms it is likely that you may find yourself in large scale M&A transactions, whereas at medium and smaller sized firms these M&A transactions will be smaller and there may be a higher level of involvement in corporate/commercial work as well.

Prospect to specialise 

Opportunities to specialise may be one of the distinct advantages you may find in working within a smaller firm, given some of the unique practice areas that you can cover. Recently, we have seen an increase in roles specifically within corporate/commercial, debt capital markets, commercial and DIFC litigation.

If you are looking for a career in Law and require more information, please contact:

Jason Grundy
T:  +971 4 8180 102

Career advice 


Latest jobs