We recently discussed why attorneys should reject a counter-offer post resignation. While we received positive feedback on the article, we were also met with many questions on the resignation process itself. Since QUID PRO QUO never ignores candidate questions, we had to report back on what things lawyers should consider when resigning. The reality is that there are several important items to keep in mind and professionalism should always prevail.
Prepare for the Counter-Offer
It’s very likely that an employer will not want to see an attorney just up and leave a firm or corporate legal department. Lawyers have value, especially if they’ve been employed for a while or if the employer is inundated with work. Thus, a firm or company may make an exiting lawyer a counter-offer in response to a resignation attempt. Every attorney contemplating giving their notice should be prepared for this. They should know how they’d respond and they should remind themselves of the reasons for which they are resigning. Stay strong people.
Start with the Top and Work Downwards
Resignation questions often begin with whom a lawyer should first inform of his/her decision to resign. The answer is that attorney – either a senior associate or partner, depending on the lawyer’s specific career level – with whom the resigning lawyer has worked more closely with. Once this is done, the resigning lawyer should work downward on the employment ladder. The idea is to inform the most senior attorney first and the newest attorney at the end.
Please note, though, that this order could change depending on a lawyer’s particular firm or business. Every environment is different. If you have questions, simply ask the first person you communicate your resignation to.
At Least Two Weeks
Once a lawyer gives his notice of resigning, for how much longer should he choose to work for? This is a good question. The answer is typically two weeks. However, an attorney should look at her particular situation. If a firm or company is extremely busy, offer to stay longer than two weeks to assist with the hectic caseload. Lawyers must know that they never want to hurt a firm or company when resigning. It’s just not professional and the result can be detrimental. Thus, it never hurts to ask an employer when a good departure date is – even if the lawyer cannot stand the employer.
Leave with Respect and Class
Yes, there are situations in which an attorney completely dislikes the firm or company she works for. However, this can never get shown when resignation time rolls around. Know that the legal community in which you sit is a relatively small one – lawyers talk, and information gets spread no matter where you reside. Therefore, attorneys must always take the professional side when resigning. Don’t offer up negative comments. Do not throw people under the bus. Remain respectful and classy on your way out and you’ll be known for it – this is a positive thing.
Be Professional Until the Very End
Resigning often means that a lawyer will experience a lightened work load, or, a more flex schedule. If this is the case, attorneys must remain professional at all times. Less work does not mean you can stroll into the office at 10 a.m. Similarly, resignation does not mean you can ease into work wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
Lawyers must remain professional until the very last minute they work for an employer. Remember that you may never know when you might need a contact or a reference. Don’t burn a bridge just because your last day is near. You’re a legal professional and this means you must always show a professional attitude while doing your job.
It’s always stressful when a lawyer resigns or gives his notice. The stress is on everyone, especially the exiting attorney. Don’t let the stress cloud your mind. If you decide to leave a law firm or corporate legal department, do so with the best intentions and in the most courteous and professional manner. Follow the tips above and you should be good to go. If you still have questions, simply contact QUID PRO QUO now and we’ll be happy to help!