Herrick, Feinstein’s Executive Chair Explains Why Lawyers May Prefer Working at a Midsize Firm

April 23, 2024 – Media Mention
Above the Law

Belinda Schwartz, Herrick's executive chair, sat down with Above the Law in an interview to discuss some of the immediate benefits associates will find at a midsize firm as opposed to a Biglaw firm. Belinda Schwartz is the first woman to lead Herrick in its long and storied history.

When asked what some of the biggest benefits an associate can expect to see at a midsize firm in terms of culture, Belinda noted, "The hope is that being at a midsize firm you’re part of a tight-knit team, and therefore there’s more of an emphasis on interpersonal relationships. The nature of a team where you know everyone very well, know their strengths, know their clients and their deals, enables you to do more and to do it quickly. This benefits clients, of course, but also benefits the management of practice groups and the development of individual attorney skills and practices."

Above the Law asked about the type of day-to-day experience associates have in a midsize firm and Belinda made sure to note, "There's no doubt that associates have more hands-on experience and direct client interactions at a midsize firm... [Associates] often have the opportunity to work in many different sectors of their practice, so they are constantly learning and stretching beyond the work they are used to doing. For example, in Real Estate at Herrick, associates may work on leasing, financing transactions, and purchase and sale agreements all at the same time. The ability to grow professionally can be very appealing for associates, and while some choose to pick a focus and pursue a specialty niche, a "generalist" can be very valuable to clients and often lead to deeper and more lasting client relationships."

She added, "Additionally, associates can work with and learn from many different senior partners at a midsize firm. This exposure to different styles and experiences enhances the deal work and teaches much more than how to be a good technical lawyer. These skills of how to run a deal, how to handle challenges on a transaction, when to collaborate with others at the firm in different practices all come with experience and the knowledge of our team’s skills."

When asked for what advice she'd give to an associate considering a move out of Biglaw, she said, "I encourage younger associates to think about what they envision for themselves as a lawyer: Do you want to be out there interfacing and bringing in clients, do you prefer to stay away from that and focus only on working on matters, or do you prefer to be somewhere in the middle? A firm like Herrick can be an excellent place for associates to find the middle."

Belinda added, "Whatever an associate chooses, mentorship and perhaps more importantly, sponsorship, is also to be considered and valued. Finding a mentor you respect and can learn from is crucial... But a sponsor is someone who will advocate for you and your career advancement within your organization. The focus on developing the next generation of leaders is so important to many managing partners and firm chairs – myself included. This is hugely important in terms of diversity, inclusion, and belonging, but also in terms of good client service and in succession planning as well."

Read the full interview on Above the Law.