Smaller Firm Atmosphere Makes Big Difference

In speaking to a number of firm leaders last week about the benefits of working at a smaller firm as opposed to a megafirm, I found many of them agreed that perhaps the biggest benefit to small and midsized firm life is the closeness of the office atmosphere.

“It’s a much more collegial environment where we all know each other and all spend time together,” said Howard J. Davis, managing partner of 20-attorney Philadelphia firm Kleinbard Bell & Brecker.

“When we lure talent away from other firms, it’s generally lawyers who want more autonomy, less of a political environment and the ability to succeed based on their own ambition,” said Pete A. Fuscaldo, managing partner of 28-lawyer Pittsburgh firm Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl.

“I think we really strive here to have a workplace that’s more relaxed,” said William E. Lestitian, who oversees 30 attorneys as chief executive officer of Rothman Gordon in Pittsburgh. “We work hard, but our people are able to have some balance.”

Lestitian cited such quality of life perks as free membership to the local gym and complementary fruit from local grocers as examples of amenities his firm is able to provide to its staff.
“In a smaller firm, it’s easier to do something like that,” he said.

Paul F. Prestia, CEO of Valley Forge, Pa.-based Ratner Prestia, which employs 40 attorneys and three patent agents, said the close, collegial environment has management benefits as well.

“The benefits internally are that you’re closer to everybody else and, therefore, you have a better idea of what they’re doing and can monitor what’s good and bad about it,” he said. “It’s just easier to keep track of 40 people than 400.”

–Zack Needles, Staff Reporter

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