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Time for a career change?

  • July 24, 2017

We’ve all been there. Sometimes, regardless of how good things may be going at your current firm, or how successful you’ve been, you might feel like a change of scenery. But how can lawyers assess their career options and identify whether it’s time for a career change, and what should their next steps be?

Career change

There are plenty of factors for legal professionals to consider when weighing up a career change and it’s important to remember that the grass certainly isn’t always greener on the other side. You should take into account whether your departure will affect any cases you’re currently working on and whether you’ll be able to maintain courteous and professional relationships with your current firm. Can you ethically transfer your existing clients to your new employer? What effect will this have on your practice area? Will moving impact your ability to make partner? It’s crucial to keep these questions and many more in mind when making a move as you don’t want to find yourself in a worse position than you started in.

The warning signs

It goes without saying that if you’re not happy in your current role then you should leave it. That much is obvious. We spend far too much time at work to do something we don’t enjoy and your mental health is more important than any job. However, there are less obvious indicators that might mean it’s time for you to consider a career change. If you want to change to a specialism that your firm doesn’t focus on, or feel like your progression with your current employer is limited then that could suggest you need to move. Alternatively, you might want to seek out an employer that could potentially offer an improved work/life balance or the opportunity to work overseas. There are myriad options out there but ultimately, the only person that can understand your motivations and whether it’s the right time to leave is you. A good rule of thumb is that if you think your performance has been affected in any way – it’s time for a change.

Maintaining relationships

One thing you certainly don’t want to do is burn bridges and you must avoid what Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg calls, ‘leaving before you’ve left’ where you’ve essentially internally resigned while in the process of looking for a new job. This will only leave a bad taste and may affect your long term career success. It’s worth remembering that the legal sector is relatively insular and word travels fast. If you’ve downed tools for one firm, there’s a good chance others have heard about it. Try and leave on the best possible terms and, unless you’ve had a thoroughly unpleasant stint, attempt to leave the doors open for a possible return in the future. After all, you never know where your career could take you.

There are no concrete rules for when you should consider a career change, but what is important is that you do it on your terms and in the right way, otherwise it could impact your role at your next employer and ultimately your career progression.

Check out some of our other blogs to find out how you can get ahead in your career.

Or take a look at some of our current legal jobs.

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