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Should I get out of my boutique?

By Edward Honnold

Q: I need to know when to stay or go. I have been working in a boutique litigation firm in New York City for the past year and a half. The firm is small (six attorneys) and generally focused on securities class actions and commercial litigation. I have gained an immense amount of experience, but I have also been working extremely hard (I billed over 2500 hours last year). I enjoy NYC, but I do not see myself staying to raise a family. Rather, I envision myself doing that in a smaller city (i.e. Pittsburgh, close to home). A year and a half seems like a short period of time to be a legitimate lateral hire, and I don't want to start from scratch again somewhere else. However, I feel like the more time and committment I put into my firm is wasted time because I don't see a future here. I wonder if I should go somewhere else immediately to start gaining partnership credit or continue here in NYC until the perfect job shows up. I was an average student at a regional law school and I have an LLM. that I have not used.

A: Why would you want to stay? You'll never be able to start a family, or manage family life, working 2500 billable hours. You may as well begin now to look for a position in Pittsburgh, if that's where you want to be. More time in New York won't help. However, to be realistic, you may need to anticipate some further length of stay in New York while you find your job in Pittsburgh. Begin by networking with alumni from your law school, and use your law school's career placement office. But don't stay in New York any longer than necessary, just to "put in time"; in these times of rapid job mobility, it is far more important to be flexible than to demonstrate job "stability."

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