|BigLaw did throw some FANTASTIC parties.|
At the small firm in Small Town things were more relaxed career wise, but stressful in other ways. The Partners had been in practice together for over a decade. Both were set in their ways. And neither one of them spoke to the other. (As an aside, I wouldn't recommend this in business.) Each day was generally tense, and not in a good way. But there was no billable requirement. No one checked up on my billing. And most of the time I was a glorified photocopier, emailer, phone call maker.
As for this firm in Seattle... If I were goldilocks there's a chance I'd be saying it is "JUST RIGHT." We just completed a document that was a team effort to get out the door. I wasn't walking on egg shells to not piss off a partner like in BigLaw and I wasn't tiptoeing around a gigantic ego like in Small Town. We banded together and got it done. Plus, I don't mind if I'm working well past dark, or waking up and hitting snooze 4 times. I love it.
And, it is nice to use my lawyer brain again.
There is a lot of pressure during law school to make your first job your forever job. If you are deciding between Public or Private practice there are several different considerations to take into account - such as pay, quality of life and area of law. But don't be discouraged if you think you're in the right sector, and unhappy at work. It's totally possible you simply haven't found the office that is just right yet.