Don’t burn your bridges

So you’ve decided it’s time to move on and have secured a great new offer. Here are a few
handy tips to ensure you leave your job on good terms.

Stay engaged

Don’t check out too early. As long as you are being paid you owe it to your firm and your clients
to do your best until you walk out the door. Organise a plan to transfer your responsibilities so
your partner/ manager and colleagues are not left with a mountain of unfinished work. Make sure there are no ‘time bombs’ sitting in your files that will adversely affect your colleagues down the

Write a resignation letter

Think of your resignation letter as a thank you note. It’s an opportunity to express your gratitude
to your manager for working at the company and for the help they may have provided. It should
also include your last day on the job. Where possible, resign in person to provide closure. Make
sure you resign with adequate notice, particularly if your job is complex. If you would like some
guidance, here is a template for a resignation letter from Seek. Remember the legal world is very

Get your story straight

Once you’ve met with your partner/ manager, ensure you’re both on the same page regarding
the reasons for your departure. It’s vital to keep your approach positive – you want to leave the
door open for future employment or at least a good job reference. Confirm with your manager
how he or she would like your colleagues to be told. It may be worth suggesting that you tell
colleagues individually and write a short email for your partner/manager to distribute.

Return any property

Make sure you don’t leave with any keys, equipment or furniture (I know you loved that office
iPhone). Leave with a good conscience and make sure to pass on your contact details to
colleagues. If there is an alumni organisation make sure you sign up and if there is an exit
interview – try and provide positive feedback and constructive criticisms. Try and refrain from
‘going postal’ irrespective of the reasons you are leaving. Remember you are likely to bump into
former colleagues at other firms, in court or they may even be your next client. It is a small
industry and people have long memories. Try and move on without burning bridges.

Be VERY wary of counter-offers

Once you have signalled your intention to leave your potential employer, even if you accept a
counter-offer to stay things will never be the same. Anecdotally, most people who accept a
counteroffer still leave their employer within the next 12 months. The fundamental reasons that
they were looking to change employers has not changed.

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