Six reasons why good lawyers move firms

Published On: January 17, 2018

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When a solicitor or other lawyer is approached about a particular opportunity or is open to the possibility of a move, it is desirable to know what their reasons are for considering such a move. This helps ensure all sides understand each other and any potential outcome is a good one.

There are six main reasons why lawyers will look to move on from their current firm.

1. For career progression

In our experience, this is the most likely reason why lawyers consider a change.  Lawyers seem to be most receptive to a move when:

  • They have not advanced or not been promoted to, for example, to associate, senior associate or, salaried/equity partner.
  • Other hires have joined in the same team, perhaps at a higher level
  • They perceive that their path to partner is blocked by other young partners, or partners who are unlikely to be retiring within the next few years
  • They are aware their firm has not taken on any new equity partners for some time (sometimes a decade or longer) meaning that it is their perception that such a promotion is unlikely to materialise for them (even if their performance and client base warrants such a promotion)

2.To specialise or for quality of work

Some lawyers have the desire to specialise and become an expert in their field; at a small or medium sized firm, many struggle to make this a reality.  So moving to specialise and preferably become exposed to a higher-net-worth client base at the same time can and is a key reason why some solicitors move.

Other lawyers will look to move firms for a better quality of work – typically, but not always – the attraction of working on what they perceive to be better – or bigger – deals or with a higher-net-worth client base.  However, some lawyers will feel that they do not enjoy the exposure on deals/client work they could do, so they look to join a smaller firm where they may get greater job satisfaction.  In other cases, others will move away from, for example, a volume-based conveyancing firm to a perceived more professional firm where they can give a personal service.

3. For more money

In our experience, it is not very common for lawyers to move solely for the reason of money. When we register such candidates, we always advise them to talk to their employer first before setting off on a mission to find a firm prepared to pay them more money.  However, if, having followed this course of action, a lawyer is still feeling unappreciated in the context of their remuneration package, depending on their practice area, it is not usually too difficult to find an alternative firm with some firms paying an attractive uplift on salary (practice area depending).

4. To change practice areas

Many solicitors, particularly those from NQ level to around two years, will consider changing practice areas.  It can (and does) happen that solicitors much later on in their career change practice area, but doing so usually comes with a large drop in salary.  As long as solicitors are realistic about salary aspirations for changing practice areas, it is usually possible

5. To cut down on a commute

This is a common reason why lawyers move firms.  Many get fed up with what may even be quite a short commute.  The roads and rail networks in Norfolk don’t seem to lend themselves to short commutes. In our experience, even a 40 minute commute each way can be too much for a lawyer to bear for more than a year or two.  The problem may be worse in Norfolk where the roads (despite significant improvements over the last couple of years) are often a single carriageway in long stretches, so any amount of disruption along a stretch of road, not reachable by the rail network, can add a significant delay to a journey.

6. To gain work flexibility

Lack of work flexibility is a common reason why lawyers move firms,  particularly after having had a period of maternity leave.  Many solicitors will consider moving firms to a more sympathetic employer if they are frequently struggling to work typical office hours.  Firms who have been able to implement flexible working policies / put in place remote working, seem to be ahead in keeping some highly skilled people working for them.  As long as it works for both parties, and client service levels are not impacted adversely, flexible working is a good benefit offered by an increasing number of law firms.

Contact us 

To enquire about any of our live vacancies (note: not all vacancies are advertised on our website) or for a free, no-obligation chat about market conditions, salaries and progression at local law firms, contact us by phone, text or Watsapp on 01603 516261 or 07960 743650 or email anytime, including outside of working hours.

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