Where to work in Brussels?
Freshly graduated students often come with queries about life in law firms.
Many questions are related to wages and working hours.
But the key question is always about how cool (or stressful) it is to work for this or that law firm.
Here are a few cardinal principles to keep in mind:
- Wanna keep a social life? => Avoid merger factories;
- Life at European law firms is not necessarily better than in anglo-saxon law firms. This is because there is often a stronger pyramidal hierarchy in traditional (especially south european) law firms. In turn, junior associates are typically less involved in high level issues (meetings with clients, etc.) and must show a lot of deference to senior colleagues. In US law firms, partners – but this is again a generality – would tend to be more approachable;
- US firms pay better than UK firms, which pay better than continental firms. The same equation however applies to billable hours;
- What law firms seek to purchase with a strong paycheck is full availability, including at very short notice. Upon client/partner call, young associates must be ready to sacrifice family, holiday, wedding plans…;
- Minimum entry wage for a 1y associate in a Brussels competition pratice : 50K€/year;
- Like team work? Go for big law. Hate ghost writing? Go for academia;
- The above is of course contingent on the people. Several well-known merger factories are really cool places to work for, simply because the partners there are great professionals and very pleasant persons;