How important is firm culture/WLB vs practice area? I’m a first year associate working for a firm I summered for. It’s a boutique tax firm with some civil litigation. I love the lit work (have always wanted to do litigation) but I truly hate the tax and corporate work.
The WLB is really good though. My boss is generally pretty flexible with my hours, and understanding with family responsibilities (I’m a mom). I have a 1500 billable req and I work very well with my boss.
Cont in comments.

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I can tell you that I would rather work with good people who are kind and understanding than work in the exact practice area I want. If you add a good WLB, then you’re pretty golden.

I work with a difficult partner, and it’s a reason I’m considering switching to a practice area I care less about - solely for the reason of not dealing with his personality. Granted, it’s an extreme, but if I were in your shoes with 4 great thing going (WLB, flexibility, nice partner, and enjoying the lit work), I wouldn’t risk that all for a different practice area. Just my two cents.

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Yeah so I switched from a boutique with amazing WLB (where I could coincidentally focus enough on a handful of big matters to bill 8 hrs/day and not be stressed because we had big clients with deep pockets who never fussed over bills) to focus on lit (i didn’t like the regulatory work) and wow was that a mistake. New firm is toxic, my hours are slashed, I’m juggling small cases the partners didn’t want to deal with, and it’s made me hate lit. 🙃

Amazing teams with good WLB are rare. I never understood why lawyers all seemed to hate their jobs and now I totally get it.

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You are going to be practicing likely for 30 to 40 years. You should like what you do. I've had to pull away from areas more than once because the subject matter and common tasks were so mind numingly boring. I was actually in a very similar situation at a commercial real estate boutique, and I left because I realized that I would never get the opportunities I needed to develop as a litigator in that environment. The longer you stay the more difficult it's going to become to brand yourself as a litigation attorney. I personally would lose my mind doing work that I hated everyday. It's not so bad initially, but it gets worse over time.

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I figure I have another year until it becomes difficult to switch to a fully lit position but yes, the corporate work is making me lose my mind and my soul a bit more each day

AA1 has a good point, and my comment is purely based on being a junior. But if I was to make a decision: good WLB and kind people but not my favorite practice area vs. Terrible WLB with asshole partner in my preferred practice area, I would choose the former.

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Does everyone believe that we should enjoy ALL aspects of our jobs? That’s unrealistic. If I were you I would make it known what work I love to do, seek as much help and support in the firm for the work I don’t like to do and focus like hell on being the best litigator so that that work comes your way more and more.

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@freelance that’s what I try to do - my boss knows I’ll always prefer the lit work. But to AA1’s point, my firm is a transactional firm that has a couple singular litigations going on, so it’ll be hard to gain experience and become a true litigator even if I work on all the litigations my firm currently has

How important is firm culture/atmosphere versus enjoying your practice area? I’m considering looking to switch to a firm that does only litigation, but worry that most other jobs won’t have the WLB and may not give me the independence and level of responsibility that I currently have and enjoy.

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