Small Companies = Big Opportunities

Some argue that if you are innovative, ambitious and creative you should not go to law school because being a lawyer will sap all of that energy away from you until you are miserable and are desperate to get out. The proof of such a statement is perhaps the number of lawyers in this country that leave the practice of law to fulfill other career-related goals and dreams, and become much happier in the process. In some ways, law firms are like investment banks in that they are highly sought after positions for college and graduate students lured to the nation’s business centers for, in addition to the experience, big deals and big compensation. But the hours can be demanding and the work can be grueling at times, not to mention the difficulty with some of the personalities. Law firms and banks essentially ask that you put all other aspects of your life on hold while you work for them so that the firm can serve its clients. And as indispensable as one may think he or she is, there are always others that are ready and willing to step in and take over the job without the firm skipping a beat.

With time, many lawyers and bankers realize that they stopped using their brains long ago and that their experience has allowed them to do the same thing over and over on autodrive mode. Salaries and bonuses continue to rise in an effort to attract and retain hard-working, talented individuals, but there comes a point where money is not what these people are seeking. They are looking for a chance to think, to create, to be innovative and to be happy, a promise that these law firms and large banks will never fulfill because they cannot, for to do so would undermine a traditional business model proven to make money. Most of the work that allows lawyers or bankers to be innovative and creative, to think big or to improve or radically change a business or process happens within small companies or firms. The bulge-bracket banks and white-shoe law firms offer none of these opportunities; they only require that you show up early, stay late and keep your mouth shut in the meantime. While there is no substitute for experience on Wall Street out of college or graduate school, after a while, the best opportunities (and often talent) can be found elsewhere.

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