The Etiquette of Gracefully Exiting Your Legal Job

December 6, 2012 Legal Advice

The transition to the next stage in your legal career can be a stressful process.  How do you tell your boss that you are moving on to another career opportunity?  I offer the following advise on how to gracefully make the transition and not look back with regret.

When is the best time of day to have “the departing” conversation with your boss? The end of the day is when you want to initiate that conversation so you can avoid people coming in and out of your office.  Colleagues will want to ask you questions and attempt to convince you not to leave while your boss might try to match compensation and pressure you to stay.  I have seen many circumstances where all the above have occurred. In similar circumstances, I explain that if you had to give notice to get instant gratification, you are underappreciated and that is why you are leaving in the first place.

How do you tell your boss you are leaving?  In person. If your boss is out of town, have a phone conversation.  You want to have a private conversation in the office.  Begin by telling your boss you have accepted an offer. If he or she asks where, be honest. Proceed by telling your boss how appreciative you are for everything the firm or company has done for you. Remember, you never want to do anything to compromise the firm or company you are leaving.

Less is more. You never know who you might need help from in the future, so you don’t want to burn bridges and sever friendships over the departure. Don’t make any negative/disparaging comments about the company. If a colleague asks you why, it would be a good idea to defer the question with, “We can talk about it over a drink after the move sometime.”

Provide a smooth transition.  Work your two weeks and wrap up all loose ends.  Clean up your computer and provide a step-by-step guide to important files.  You should also make it known that you are available to help a new hire learn the ropes even after you are gone.

Remain calm.  It can be a very stressful time leading up to when you put in your two weeks notice. People worry about losing friendships in the process. After a period of time, people realize though that you are making a decision that is best for you and your family and will respect you for that.

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