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Career Story: Partner In Small Law Firm

Partner In Small Law Firm

Job Title: Partner In Small Law Firm

Type of Company: My law firm provides legal services primarily in the area of real estate conveyance and development, serving individuals, companies and non-profit institutions. The firm also does estate planning and probate law.

Education: BA, Social Studies, Wesleyan University •• J, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Previous Experience: I joined a small law firm immediately after graduating from law school, and later became a partner in that firm.

Job Tasks: My job involves solving problems related to real estate. When people buy a home or want to construct an addition, when a developer wants to divide a parcel of land and sell off lots, when a business wants to commence a new use of its property, or when an institution wants to erect a windmill -- these are all situations where expert legal advice may needed to protect investments and comply with many regulations. I help people understand what steps they need to take, what permits have to be obtained from government agencies and what they ought to do to protect their investments and achieve their goals. This requires an understanding of all the issues and laws that apply, and it often involves advocacy, i.e. representing the client before officials, at public hearings, and in private conferences and in the exchange of correspondence with various parties. It sometimes involves appearing in a court of law.

My days are spent learning about and analyzing a client's problem, researching and developing strategies, drafting letters and legal documents, conferring with property owners, surveyors, engineers, architects, zoning, conservation and planning officials, and conferring on the phone.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I like meeting people and helping them achieve what they want, whether my client is an individual trying to get permission to add onto her home or a hospital that needs to build a major addition. My work is very valuable to my clients, which I like, and I appreciate being compensated accordingly. However, many clients are non-profit institutions that I like to help pro bono or for a very low fee.

I do not like the pressure of meeting deadlines, and never feeling that my work is complete because there is a great demand for my services. I especially do not like it when I have not gotten to some work that a client expects.

Job Tips: I am very accessible, which is to say I usually see people when they drop by my office, and I can generally be reached by phone. It is important to be responsive to clients and to keep them informed. Someone interested in a career in the law should take a general education course in college, with much reading and writing, but shouldn't focus on "pre-law" subjects.

Additional Thoughts: Unfortunately, many young lawyers are disappointed in their career choice, especially those who've found a job at a large city law firm where the financial rewards are substantial but the hours and the pressure are tremendous. Getting a job at a small firm, where the pay will be less, may be much more satisfying. The law offers many career paths. What my practice is like may be very different from what another lawyer does. Caring about what you do, and how you relate to others, may be the most important factor leading to success.

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