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How to Job Hunt Ethically While You Are Still Employed

  • November 8, 2019

Are you looking for a new legal role?

It’s a generally held opinion that it’s much easier to find a job if you’re already in a post. You’re already in the ‘thick of it’. Liaising with other legal professionals and interacting with contacts on a daily basis.

If you’re unemployed, you don’t have that sort of access.

Additionally, if you’re in a job, you have the luxury of being able to look around and take your time. You don’t need a job; you want a new job. And you can wait for the right one if necessary.

But it’s wise to practice caution when job hunting while still employed. Nothing will turn a potential new employer off faster than a breach of ethics. And finding out about a breach of ethics by your current manager or senior partner won’t look good for you either.

Seeking to avoid burning your bridges with the law firm you are currently with it a good idea – they are still paying your salary, after all. The least you can do is job search ethically.

Here are the steps to take to ensure your legal job hunt remains professional.

1. Job Search in Your Own Time

Here at Clayton Legal, we advise candidates to avoid job searches in work time.

That means not looking for jobs when you should be working on a caseload, not looking for new opportunities when the rest of the team are out at a meeting, avoiding sending job hunt related emails out from your firm’s pc or looking jobs up on the internet in between seeing clients.

And not using the firm’s printer to do multiple copies of your CV is a given too!

2. Keep it Quiet

If you want to maintain your ethical job search in your own time, it’s wise not to discuss it at work. Not even with your best work buddy. Once someone knows, it’s only a matter of time before word gets out.

Not only could knowledge of your job hunt suggest to your Manager or Senior Partner that you are unhappy in your current role, but you could also find yourself in the awkward position of being removed from discussions and even cases if they perceive you are less than 100% committed to your current role.

While keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date is vital in your job hunt, not mentioning that you are looking a new role is prudent. Just make sure all your details such as recent awards, training, qualifications and experience are there for prospective employers to view.

3. Schedule Your Interviews Carefully

Taking time out for a ‘dentist’ visit or contriving a sick day when you’re going for an interview is not ethical.

Try to schedule interviews before or after your regular work time, or in your lunch hour. If it’s impossible for the interviewer to see you at a time that works outside your current hour, take a day’s annual leave.

That way, you’re not likely to bump into your firm’s Solicitor in the high street at lunchtime when you’re supposed to have flu.

4. Remain Diplomatic

If you’re asked about your current firm or employer at interview, do not be tempted to use the occasion to let potential employers know how unhappy you are, how your Senior Partner hasn’t a clue how to run a law firm, or how much you loathe the clients.

It should be obvious, but sometimes even seasoned legal professionals fall into the trap at an interview of being too candid with their opinions.

Maintaining diplomacy at all times is the key. Concentrate on what a new job could offer you (career path, the broader scope for legal areas to cover, diverse clients, etc) and less on what your current position doesn’t provide.

After all, if you are keen to rush into a character assassination of your current employer, your interviewer’s first thought will be “Will they talk about my firm the same way in 12 months?”

5. Keep Up the Good Work

You may be leaving your current employer because you don’t like working for their firm, or you may be going to increase your chances of moving up the career ladder elsewhere.

Whatever the reason, while you are still employed at your current law firm, it’s the mark of your integrity and professionalism to keep up the standard of work expected of you.

Knowing you are doing everything in your power to remain ethical and principled in your job search will be rewarded by the self-knowledge that you handled the situation well, and it will demonstrate your sincerity and honesty to your future employer.


Job searching while employed can be difficult, not least due to the time constraints you face, but it does have its advantages. You are in a better position to negotiate your preferred salary, and you won’t be under the same pressure to take any job that comes along just to meet your mortgage or rent payments.

Additionally, by conducting your job search ethically, you can be sure your current employer will be more than happy to provide a glowing reference.

Good luck in your search!

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move in your legal career, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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