Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Job Tips: Time For Change

One of our readers wants your input on the best time to change firms. There is some conventional wisdom indicating that leaving during the third or fourth quarter of a year doesn't make any sense if you've got a healthy bonus on the line.  Under what circumstances would you be willing to leave this late in the year? Does it make a difference if you're a partner with the firm? Is there ever really a good time to leave? What factors should one consider in making a decision?

15 comments:

  1. Best time to leave is slightly before you're driven insane.

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    1. Put in your two weeks notice when the boss says the firm is not doing well, he or she is driving a nice car, and you see you are at a glass ceiling with no chance of promotions/salary increase. Don't burn a bridge and make sure there is an action list for all clients so someone is not left in a bind. Clients must be given the option to go with you, find a new attorney, stay with the firm, or represent themselves. The best time to leave is usually by the end of the year or like I did (after I got my Christmas bonus). I earned it but off to greener pastures.

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  2. One should be honest with himself and ask himself whether he's simply leaving a bad situation as opposed to moving toward a clearly better situation. Leaving for the sake of leaving will create bad decision-making and reduce the odds of success at the new firm.

    Tenth-year lawyers looking for associate positions are just sad. When someone moves around too frequently, he eventually becomes an tenth-year lawyer looking for yet another associate position.

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  3. I was in a position with my last firm where I was trying to stick it out just for financial reasons ("if I can just hold on until that bonus comes through..."). It didn't work for me or the firm. In the end, it would have been better for everyone if we had just sat down and figured out the terms of separation -- before feelings were hurt.

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  4. What is the point of being a "partner" if you have no say in anything?

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    1. The title "partner" has turned into youth soccer participation trophies. Every lawyer gets to be a "partner" regardless of whether you actually have any equity, or have other lawyers under your supervision. I'm a midlevel associate that gets a generous cut of origination. I laugh at "partners" with no cut of anything, and only their shiny title.

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    2. All firms are not created equal. There are some firms where partner means equity, and it's hard as hell to make partner. There are other firms that hand out the title to see if you can use it to put in a place to "deserve" equity.

      On another note, I'm moving to another firm as a mid-level associate because they tripled my salary. I hope this doesn't put me on the 10th year career associate track. That said, 10th year associates at my new firm make way more than partners at my last one. So I'll swallow my pride if that happens.

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    3. This. Unless you are equity, titles are meaningless. Take-home is king.

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    4. It varies a lot depending on the firm. At some firms you can have equity status but still have no real say in how things are run. The same type of issue can exist with compensation as well. Ultimately, what really matters is whether your situation feels good to you.

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    5. Equity is a two way street. Its great if money is coming in and there are profits to be split. But if your clients are not paying, or better yet "auditing" your bills for 6 months, equity means no paycheck

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  5. I worked a few years for a small insurance defense firm and left mid-year for big insurance defense firm paying more money.

    Leaving in the middle of the year was a mistake since I was bonus eligible at small firm when I left. Bonus structure at the big firm is a moving target. Hours are a lot worse too at big firm.

    Smaller firm treated me fairly and I regret making the move. I don't want to be a 10th year associate at my 6th law firm!

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  6. If you're not happy with the pay, or being worked more that you're getting paid to do, then leave. I left a plaintiff firm that made me and other associates work far more hours than the pay justified, and I don't regret it one bit. I voiced my concerns to the partners about the workload and how all attorneys and support staff were overburden and we need additional help, but they were very very VERY slow in addressing the issues. Once I left, it felt like I was 30lbs lighter, and I also was a much nicer person overall (the asshole in me subsided). I have also had friends who tried sticking it out with their insurance defense firm only to finally realize that their firm just sucks and they need to go to one that pays them accordingly and not screw them on bonuses they rightfully earned. Once they moved to a job that paid accordingly, they too were much happier. In the end, its all about feeling appreciated and valued at your work, whether through good environment and/or reasonable pay. If you do not feel like you are getting either to a good degree, jump ship and don't look back.

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  7. Unless there is some kind of requirement in your employment contract that you give 2 weeks notice, I'd give as short an amount as you can. Obviously, take care of clients and cases and hand them off appropriately so you don't burnt bridges etc. But, once you've given notice it is awkward and you are persona non grata anyway.

    Also, negotiate a week off before you start at the new place. Sure, they'll tell you they need you right away, but they've been looking for 6 months already, another week won't kill them. For you, on the other hand, it'll be your only true vacation (no clients or emails to check).

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  8. As for timing of partners leaving, it's generally once you're comfortable all or most of your clients will follow you. That's where your value is as a partner.

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