Third, you should be joining a ?stable practice group in which there ?is room for advancement. How many partners originate work for the practice ?group? How diverse is the client base ?for the practice group? If the practice group is entirely reliant on one partner ?or one client for its work, it's not necessarily a bad thing, but you should appreciate the risk that comes with such an arrangement. Also, are there other associates of similar seniority in the practice group? Although partnership and advancement within the firm may be the last things on your mind at this stage of your career, a glut of similarly positioned eighth-year associates in the future may result in ?unnecessary competition for partnership consideration.
Depending on your firm, the leadership and rainmakers at the firm may interact with you frequently, infrequently and/or everything in between. Regardless of how often you see these colleagues, they are almost always the reason you take home a paycheck every fortnight and, thus, their composition and investment in the firm are significantly tied to the firm's future success.
A healthy firm has leaders and rainmakers diverse in practice and age. This diversity ensures that even as certain leaders and rainmakers depart the firm, the firm will remain healthy and viable. Further, I personally appreciate when firm leadership has demonstrable ties to the firm, community and region. These ties usually translate into a vested interest by firm leadership in the stability and security of the firm.
Firm leadership should be vibrant, energetic and motivated by a responsibility and interest to grow the firm. Questions about the firm's five- and 10-year plans are illuminating to the extent that you will likely be able to tell immediately if long-term planning is a strength of the firm. A firm that is not prospectively focused will forever be catching up to those that are.
The above is an obviously unexhaustive list of important factors that every young attorney should consider when seeking law firm employment. No firm is perfect, and you will likely see flaws at even the firm that is perfect for you. It is a crucial decision, so be level-headed and consider the multitude of factors beyond perceived prestige and salary. Once you get there, though, don't act entitled. Don't leave until the work is done. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't forget that there is no substitute for hard work. And don't forget that if your firm's coffee is bad, you can always bring your own.
Nolan G. Shenai is an associate in Thorp Reed & Armstrong's commercial and corporate litigation practice group, where he focuses on commercial banking and finance litigation and sports and entertainment law. He can be reached at email@example.com.