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23 Sep

Leaving Your Current Law Firm? Here’s How to Make a Graceful Exit

by: Astor Professional Search

Making a graceful exit is a crucial step in transitioning from one job to the next. This is especially true in careers that rely on professional recommendations and networking. When an attorney leaves his or her law firm for a new opportunity, he or she should take care not to burn bridges. Knowing the smoothest way to plan a career transition can help attorneys maintain a solid network of peers.

Communicating a Resignation Gracefully

As far as the law firm is concerned, there is never a good time for attorneys to leave, especially when they are talented and have clients. However, positive and detailed communication can help to cushion the blow. While law firms may not gracefully accept an exit themselves, attorneys should take preventative measures to avoid escalation. They should resist the impulse to unload everything that they think was wrong with the law firm. Instead, attorneys should frame their departure in terms of what the new opportunity could do for their career.

Allowing a Firm to Properly Transition

In addition, departing attorneys should communicate their intentions in as much time as is practicable to give their previous law firm the chance to plan for their absence. They should leave detailed instructions for matters that they were handling so the law firm can facilitate a smooth transition. Scrambling to fill a void hurts firms and clients alike. Departing attorneys should make sure to follow all of their professional and ethical obligations with regard to clients. If necessary, an attorney should prepare a transition plan so the firm can continue to service the clients to a consistent standard. At the same time, attorneys should wait until they inform their firm of their departure to let clients know that they are leaving the firm.

Preparing for a Negative Reaction

Law firms may not react well when skilled attorneys leave, especially if they think that there may be competition for their clients. This can make life difficult for departing lawyers. Lawyers should be prepared for what may happen when they announce their resignations. If a firm is worried about losing clients, they could order an attorney out of the office that same day. Therefore, employees should prepare for that contingency by getting the information that they need from their office (respecting the confidentiality of client information).

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