Changing firms within the legal profession is becoming more common. Gone are the days when a young associate fresh out of law school joins a law firm and remains with that firm for the entirety of their career. Today, such a career path is the exception, not the rule. The new rule is effectively “lateraling” from one firm to another. Lateral moves by attorneys have spiked in recent years. For example, between 2014 and 2018, there were close to nine thousand lateral partner moves from one large law firm to another. Furthermore, approximately ninety-seven percent of major law firms in Florida and across the country made a lateral partner hire within the past five years.
So, if you are an associate or partner at a law firm, does it make sense for you to explore the possibility of departing your current position and lateraling to a new firm? It depends on the reason you want to make such a move. The list below highlights ten of the most common reasons attorneys decide to depart their current jobs and lateral elsewhere.
1. You and the culture don’t mesh
The firm simply doesn’t align with your values and culture. Even worse, perhaps you feel it is a toxic environment due to drama, infighting between the partners, etc. With any job, a toxic environment is just that; toxic. And a change will do you good.
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2. You are not handling the types of cases you thought you would
You expected you would be representing clients in certain areas of the law where you are most passionate, but that is not how things turned out. For example, you may have aspired to practice environmental law, but you joined a large law firm out of law school and are stuck in financial services litigation.
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3. You are bored with the work
This might be rare, but it does indeed happen. Some law firms have so many attorneys that a fairly new associate, or even a junior partner, could get lost in the shuffle and not have enough work to stay busy. If you find yourself in this situation, it may make sense to depart the firm before they opt to let you go due to under-billing. Not to mention, a lack of work coming in could be a sign of bigger problems for the firm.
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4. You physically or mentally can’t take it anymore
The law profession seems to be laced with mental health issues due to the tension between productivity and wellness. And when the various dimensions of wellness are not in balance, your health or work will suffer the consequences.
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5. It’s taking a toll on your personal relationships
Closely tied to the need to take care of yourself physically and mentally, you may have found that your case load is causing you to work more hours than anticipated. Your spouse or significant other, your children, or whoever is important to you in your life is telling you you’re never around creating tension at home, which doesn’t fare well for anyone.
6. You want to relocate
Maybe you took the first opportunity that came your way after law school, but you aren’t where you want to be geographically. The great news is that there are thousands of law firms all over the country. Fine one where you really want to be.
7. You are not being paid what you expected or what you are truly worth
Those seven years of schooling didn’t come for free (unless you got lucky and had a free ride), and now what you expected to bring in and what you are actually making are not one and the same. This could also be a sign of bigger issues brewing at the firm such as financial challenges, or, even worse, maybe they don’t value you the way they should.
8. You do not feel as though you are growing and improving as an attorney
As with many careers, attorneys want to grow and improve. If your firm has not invested in your on-going improvement or training, that can be a real drain and hindrance to your ability to prepare yourself for bigger and better cases down the road.
9. You no longer want to practice law
It happens. You go to school to become an attorney, believing that this is your professional calling. Either soon after you graduate, or sometimes after years of practicing law, you realize it’s simply not for you. Although a very difficult conclusion to reach for myriad reasons, sometimes the decision to completely leave the field of law is the right one to make.
10. A better opportunity with a different law firm is available
Perhaps a new opportunity at a different law firm has come along and there is a standing offer for you to join. This should be the situation you aspire to – having options and being able to leave your current job with the security of knowing you have an even better position lined up.
Whatever your reason is for wanting to make a change, be sure that your decision is well thought out. There are pros and cons to making any career move. It is imperative that you take the time to understand the positives and negatives specific to your situation.
Looking to Change Legal Jobs? Contact a Legal Job Recruiting and Staffing Agency Today
If you are unhappy or genuinely interested in exploring your options in the marketplace, consider contacting an experienced legal job recruiter or legal headhunter. They can help ensure you land a legal job that fulfills and challenges you professionally. If you are considering hiring a recruiter, contact 4 Corner Resources. Headquartered in central Florida, 4 Corner Resources continually ranks among the leading Orlando staffing agencies. Contact 4 Corner Resources today to start a discussion if you are looking for a new legal career or are hiring a replacement for a vacant position within your law firm or other organization.