Private Practice Firm Size

In addition to examining the broader differences among all practice settings, we were interested in examining any differences that might exist among private practice firms of varying size. Of those respondents who reported working in a private practice setting, about one-third (33%) were in solo practice, while a slightly larger proportion worked in small firms (39%); smaller proportions worked in medium (18%) or large (10%) firms.

Figure 6: Private Practice Firm Size (n = 13313)


For all firm sizes, the top ten most helpful hiring criteria included all eight practical experience criteria, as well as two academic experience or achievement criteria. However, there was substantial variation in the placement of these criteria within each top ten list—especially with respect to the academic criteria, which were notably higher on the large firm list than the others.

Figure 7: Top Ten Hiring Criteria for Private Practice Firm Size


Across firm sizes, at least 70% of respondents found each of the practical experience criteria to be helpful in hiring new lawyers. With respect to the traditional hiring criteria—class rank, law school attended, and law review experience—the proportion of respondents indicating the criterion is helpful increases as firm size increases. A similar pattern emerged for journal experience, federal court clerkships, and ties to a particular geographic location. Conversely, in terms of participation in a law school clinic, law school courses in a particular specialty, and law school certification in a particular area, respondents were less likely to find these criteria helpful as firm size increased.

Analysis by private practice firm size demonstrated both statistically and practically significant results for eleven of the seventeen hiring criteria. Five results were statistically, but not practically significant, while one was neither.

Table 3: Statistical and Practical Significance in Private Practice Firm Size Analysis


Figure 8: Proportion of Respondents Indicating Somewhat or Very Helpful for All Hiring Criteria, Private Practice Firm Size