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If you're thinking to yourself, "Bridges? What bridges?" Then it may already be too late. Developing a strong career path involves cultivating relationships with all your professional connections from day one.
You may also be thinking, "What's the big deal? Will burning a bridge or two actually matter?" Like most industries, the legal field is surprisingly small. You know all the legal professionals that pop up on your LinkedIn account? Those are your potential bridges, and they exist as a finite number. Although you shouldn't burn any of them, you should especially not burn bridges with your employers.
There is no "bridge" if there is no relationship. Even a LinkedIn connection counts for something these days, but you should really focus on developing strong relationships with the people directly around you.
When you leave a job with a firm or a company, be sure to reinforce the relationships you already built. Ideally, you should leave a lasting impression with everyone, and not just your boss. When someone quits, people talk. Keep that in mind as you engage in your final interactions with coworkers.
Importantly, if you say you'll stay in touch, actually follow through. This will enable your relationships continue and even strengthen over time.
On your final day, make sure that there are no stray projects swept under the rug. Leaving a job is great opportunity to demonstrate how thorough you are on a day-to-day basis.
If there are some projects that you simply can't finish, be sure to pass them along as appropriate. Transparency in all aspects of your job should be your ultimate goal.
By getting all of your affairs in order, you'll give yourself the best chance to be re-hired. It will be obvious that you worked hard.
During all final interactions, but especially during the exit interview, try to emphasize the value that you added to the company or your firm. This will accomplish two things: 1) it will show that you actually cared about the organization's goals, and not merely your own career pursuits, and 2) it will reinforce the fact that you were an actual asset that you can't be easily replaced by Generic Applicant X.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.