While the world has come a long way, like sexism, ageism, and racism, nepotism still seems to be holding strong in the legal community.
It's still a tough legal job-market, and it is still rather common for lawyer-parents to help their lawyer-children get jobs (often at their parent's firm, or via calling in a favor from a colleague). And then there are firms, like the one Above The Law showed us a few years back, where the firm's blatant nepotism is touted as a feature, among other seeming non-sequiturs found on the firm's website.
Should You Work for a Family Firm?
If you are the lucky son or daughter of a lawyer who can employ you, then unless you can find other work on your own (and then return as the prodigal son), you probably shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. And if you take the job, you should keep your head down, work unpaid overtime, and be the nicest person in the office.
If you're considering going to work for a family firm, and you're not part of the family (and maybe even if you are), think twice, especially if you care about your reputation as a respected legal professional.
There are a lot of downsides: First off, if you're not family, you're at serious risk of being fired because one of the family members decides they no longer like you, or some other drama. That's not to mention the fact that the opportunity to advance might not exist unless you marry into the family. And if you are family, non-family employees will never really trust you, and will be upset when you, or another family member, gets promoted over the employee that actually deserves to be promoted.
In addition to the potential for unfair treatment that gets around most employment laws, you may want to consider whether it is unprofessional to work for a firm that hires family members in a professional capacity. If a firm's best judgment allows nepotism, you have to question that firm's professionalism and ability to make the best judgments, period.