Consumer firms tend to be smaller, less formal and more practical in how they move employees up into the ranks of owners.
Even the largest plaintiff shop tends to have a mom-and-pop flavor, with the culture generally reflecting the tastes and personalities of the individual owners. The reason is, firms that make up the plaintiff's bar are, by and large, true entrepreneurs of the legal profession. While large firms tend to cultivate stable client bases built around old school ties, we consumer lawyers tend to focus our efforts on fixing problems that pop up in people's lives to whatever extent the law, economics and the civil justice system will allow.
This fact of life is both the strength and the challenge of a plaintiff trial practice. The strength comes from our having to be a little smarter and a bit more creative than other lawyers who have the luxury of practicing the same type law over and over. After all, your suite buddy down the hall might get to focus each day on probate or contracts or even insurance defense. You, on the other hand, will be prosecuting sexual harassment on Monday, a truck accident on Tuesday, insurance bad faith on Wednesday, consumer fraud on Thursday and civil rights from Friday through Sunday. Then, come Monday, something else will come along.
It follows that to make it as a consumer lawyer at any level, you need to be tough, flexible and resilient. You also need to be a sharp business person. Not so much because money is a reward, but rather, because cash in the bank is fuel in the tank. Running a plaintiff's practice can be an expensive proposition. Can't get far without fuel.
How does this all add up to making partner? Or, perhaps, choosing one?
Well, if you step back for a minute, you'll see that even though consumer firm structures vary, there are common principles that apply.
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