The scenario goes something like this. An attorney decides that it's time to leave a firm or corporate legal department. He networks, applies elsewhere and soon lands a new position. He announces his resignation.
But, here comes the catch. Rather than let the lawyer leave, the employer decides they can't live without the attorney and provides him with a counter-offer. The counter-offer includes a significant raise in pay. While some people might quickly advise the lawyer to go with the dough, there are strong reasons why lawyers should reject a counter-offer after resigning.
1. It's not all About the Money
A raise is a great thing. However, attorneys must keep in mind that, if resigning, there are probably more reasons for the decision beyond salary. If the above situation arises, lawyers should note all the factors for seeking out a new job. These may include:
- Better hours
- A change in practice area
- Improvement in quality of life
- A new work environment
- More challenging or rewarding work
- A better commute
After jotting down the reasons for resigning, attorneys will likely see that money was not a main driving force in wanting to leave. If this is true, the lawyer should stand firm. A raise may be tempting to accept. But, in the end, will it really make the professional happier with his current role? The answer is typically no.
2. You Resigned for a Reason
After a notice of resignation is given, employers sometime resort to emotional blackmail to try and win back the attorney. Examples of this are statements like: "You can't leave after everything we've done for you;" or, "You were on a fast-track to partner status." Lawyers should not be persuaded by these types of emotional lines.
As stated above, there are likely several reasons why an attorney decides to leave a position. Lawyers must keep these in mind and ignore statements designed to tug at their emotions. Politely responding to them is okay, but lawyers should not buy into them.
3. Accepting a Counter-Offer May Hurt a Career
The truth is that employers often view a resignation as an act of disloyalty. By deciding to leave, the lawyer is no longer considered a team player. Further, the attorney becomes less trustworthy and perhaps even less respected.
These same feelings apply even if a lawyer decides to stay with an employer and accepts a counter-offer. The employer may be grateful they're not losing the lawyer, but the employer will still question the lawyer's loyalty and trustworthiness. The result is that the employer will likely balk at the idea of promoting the attorney or advancing him to partner status. This is not a good thing for a lawyer's career.
We're by no means saying that legal professionals should not think about a counter-offer if presented. Attorneys should consider them. We're simply communicating that they may not be in a lawyer's long-term best interests. The main point is for an attorney to think about the reasons for resigning, and carefully determine if they can be bought out by a raise.
QUID PRO QUO has been assisting lawyers find excellent employment opportunities for almost 30 years. We know the legal industry and we're a well-respected member of the legal community. If an attorney has any counter-offer questions or needs career assistance, please never hesitate to contact us.