Jumping ship as a young lawyer

Amy Clowrey discusses the factors that indicate when it is time to move firm, and when you should stay put.

Moving firms can be daunting, igniting fear of the unknown and guilt about the time and money that has been invested in your development, but it is imperative that you make the right choice for you.

There are many reasons for moving, including the type of work you want to undertake, finding the right ‘fit’ or the right location, or that it is just time for a change.

Unfortunately, this topic is not spoken about enough. After all, you cannot talk to your boss or your colleagues and many of us do not want to admit worries about our abilities or prospects to our family and friends.

You are not alone. Every junior lawyer worries about moving. When writing this article, I asked the executive committee of the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) to consider their fears on this subject and any tips they had for others considering that jump. The main concerns were not being good enough, whether training so far had been of a sufficient standard (particularly for those moving to larger firms), and stepping out into the unknown.

It is important to remember how far you have come, your strengths and abilities, and that this is still just the start of your career. If you do make the wrong move, you have time to get your career back on track.

The right time

You might be undecided about whether you want to move.

As long as you are still learning, have a good mentor, there are opportunities for progression, and you are happy, then there is no reason you should leave.

You should remember that a new firm means you are starting from scratch; you will have to prove your worth, understand the firm, and build relationships with your colleagues. Make sure you weigh up the pros and cons, speak to family and friends, and seek advice from others who have changed firms.

A word of advice

Some tips from the JLD to assist junior lawyers when moving firms were:

  • ‘Give it time, you won’t feel settled for at least six months’
  • ‘If you are pushing yourself by moving, it will not be all plain sailing on day one’
  • ‘Do not be afraid to ask. Questions are key’.

The source

Most firms use recruiters to help them fill vacancies, so it is important you find a good one. Your local JLD group will host events that are sponsored by recruitment consultants.

Attending these enables you to meet recruiters in a relaxed environment. They will talk to you on a confidential basis, so you do not need to be concerned about someone else finding out that you are looking for a new job.

You should also remember that many firms offer a bonus to staff for referrals, so talk to your contacts in other firms to see if there are any vacancies coming up where they work.

Amy Clowrey is a member of the JLD committee @juniorlawyers

This article was first published by Solicitors Journal on 17 May and is reproduced by kind permission.

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