7 signs it’s over (between you and your firm)

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“So what now?”

It’s a question I’m used to hearing from people at all levels of the food chain.

They’ve put in the hours, made compromises and sacrificed big to get to where they are today. But at some point, they’ve started to wonder whether it’s really worth sticking it out.

Only you know when it’s time to move on. But if my headline caught your attention, chances are you’ve at least thought about what the next move might be. So, if you’re on the fence about whether you need to make a clean break, here are some red flags that it’s time to move on.


  1. Staying doesn’t make financial sense

It probably seems risk, but striking out on a new path might mean you actually end up earning more. Instead of contributing to the retirement fund of the full equity partners, take a larger slice yourself. After all, some firms are now offering 70 cents in the dollar and cross-referral fees. There could be other benefits too, like being able to work fewer hours and working from home.

You may find you even have time to take that holiday that never seems to come around.


  1. You’re risking guilt by association

No matter how many hours you put in, if you’re not working for the right people, that’s energy wasted. Some firms are known for excellence in one area and not others. Ask yourself: how positive is our firm’s reputation in my practice area? Who are we being compared to? Are we being held back or even missing out on work because of the way the firm is perceived? Perhaps moving on is a better bet for your reputation.


  1. You’re being pushed out of the main game

Managing demanding clients is one thing. Managing internal conflict is another level of stress altogether. Sometimes firm management just won’t be on your side.

Perhaps they’re excluding you from managing bigger clients because of some perceived conflict. Did you back the wrong person at the last partner’s meeting?

Politicking is part and parcel of law firm but if it is taking up too much headspace, it may be time to outgrow the petty game playing.


  1. Your firm is choked by bureaucracy

Too much paperwork and too many meetings might eat into your practice. You would be better off developing business and nurturing client relationships rather than attending endless irrelevant meeting that go nowhere. Overcomplicated workplaces can be very difficult to change. So ask yourself, do you have time to wait around while these knots are being untangled? Or do you have better things to be doing?


  1. There’s been a change in direction

When you started your current role it may have been a perfect match. But things change. If your firm decides to take things in a new direction, your areas of focus may simply not fit anymore.

Now you’re faced with a choice. Do you get on board with this new plan and compromise what you’re doing? Or do you stay true to your focus?


  1. There’s a values mismatch

This is tough because values underpin every decision, big and small. Even if your situation looks fantastic on paper, a fundamental mismatch in values or personalities will wear you down over time.

Values don’t have to be spelled out in a strategic document. You’ll know what your firm’s priorities are, and whether you can keep working towards them.


  1. You know something better could be out there

Even if you’re sure you can stick it out for another year or so, you might be missing out on golden opportunities by keeping your head in the sand. We all know the best roles are often those that go unadvertised – part of the “hidden” jobs market. Now might be time to get a proper assessment of what your opportunities are and let those enviable jobs to come to you (i.e. get headhunted) by getting to know connected recruiters in the market.

And if I can leave you with one key piece of advice, start thinking about your next move while you still have a good bargaining position and can move on your own terms and timelines.


Jason runs Elias Recruitment, a boutique legal recruitment consultancy that specialises in finding lawyers for law firms, NFPs and corporate inhouse teams. Get in touch at [email protected]

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