How to Make the Move to BigLaw

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on January 10, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Let's say you graduated from law school, landed a less-than-ideal job, and now want to make the switch to BigLaw. Can it be done?

Most people would say it can't, but the true answer is "maybe." It's not an easy task -- many people try and then give up, or perhaps never try in the first place. But for the determined few, it may just be possible to make the leap to a big firm.

If you think you have what it takes, or you just want to find out what it takes and then make your choice, you've come to the right place. Here are some tips to help you make that BigLaw career move:

  • Pick a valuable practice area. Some areas of law just aren't transferable to BigLaw practice. Things like traffic tickets, DUI, and wills and trusts aren't a big focus for most Top 100 firms. Other areas of law, however, can be incredibly valuable: Litigation especially is a big area for many large firms, and an experienced and skillful litigator is never a bad acquisition. When you're choosing your expertise, make sure it's something a big firm would want in an experienced associate. If you're not sure what's valuable, then it might be a good idea to set up an informational interview with someone who does.

  • Get an impressive book of clients. It's not just skills that are useful when trying to make a good impression with a big firm; having a list of valuable clients is also a big point in your favor. If you aren't in a hot practice area, then make sure you build an impressive list of clients who will move with you if you change jobs. The more lucrative the client list, the more likely a firm will want to scoop you up. Plus, learning how to be a rainmaker may open the door to running your own practice someday.

  • Network wisely. Any legal career move can be helped by networking, but it pays to be smart about who you rub elbows with. Choose events hosted at firms you're interested in, or ones that you know partners and other decision-makers will attend. Better yet, volunteer to be a panel speaker at bar association events. It's a much more impressive resume line, and will help you meet the movers and shakers at BigLaw firms. Personal contact is a great way to stand out in a sea of applicants.

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