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How to Leave Your Law Firm Amicably

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 10, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Leaving your law firm amicably is sort of like an amicable divorce. Sure, it happens. Not always, but sometimes.

The key to a good split is having the same goals -- to avoid unpleasantness and maintain profitability. Here are some tips on how to part ways without rancor.

Timing Is Everything

People tend to know when it is time to part company. It's like that internal clock that tells us to wake up in the morning, or maybe it's just the sun shining in our eyes.

Anyway, when you are ready -- which means when you have another job -- give your boss at least two-week's notice. If you need an exact time, do it at lunch on a Friday before a three-day weekend -- but not Friday the 13th. Seriously, that's like six months from now and way too much notice.

The idea is that you have to let the firm know comfortably in advance and not at an awkward time, i.e. in the midst of a deadline, the day before a trial, death date of a family member....

Give Good Reasons and Compliments

Your exit strategy should be to leave your firm with a good feeling. Give good reasons for leaving, such as career opportunities or life changes, which can help deflect any negative feelings.

And give your supervisor or boss some real compliments. At a minimum, it will ease tension in the transition -- especially when it comes to talking about delicate matters like paychecks, work product, clients, etc.

"Always start with the positive that compliments your present employer," career coach Sandra Lamb recently explained in Business News Daily. "There's always something positive that can be said.'"

Never Burn a Bridge and Finish Your Job

Old sayings are old because they resonate over time. And so it is with the saying, "don't burn your bridges."

"You never know where and when you might end up working with the individuals in the future," advises Todd Dean, co-founder of Wirkin, a job search app.

This is especially true in the law business. Your former colleague may become your collegial adversary or better one day. If you work hard in the end, your employer may reward you with referrals in the future.

It happens. So don't slam the door behind you.

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