Interesting in Learning How to Depart Your Law Firm Without Giving Up Client Referrals
Departing your current law firm can be filled with emotion and even tension. However, how you leave your firm can make all the difference. Your notice period can last from one day to several weeks, depending on your partnership agreement or other factors. What you do during this time frame can either send you off highly respected or it can break professional and relational bridges for your future. Here are some suggestions on how to leave your current firm on good terms and maybe even continue receiving client referrals or begin receiving them.
Once you have given your notice, continue to bill regularly up to your last day. I know it’s very hard not to think about life at the new firm, but you have a fiduciary duty at your partnership until you leave. If you have new client matters and can resolve them before you depart, get them started and show a concerted effort in finishing strong. Do not begin originating client work for your new law firm. Departing partners have been taken to court by former law firms for this and have paid for it. You do not want your new law firm to pay for your ambitious mistakes. Here is the obvious: Do not make a scene or be an a** during your notice period.
Regardless of why you are leaving for another law firm, leave emotion aside and do not forget your history at the firm or those who helped you on your professional journey. There are a number of ways to honor those who have contributed to your profession – those who encouraged you, and/or were part of your team, or hired you in the first place. Saying thank you and being grateful creates lasting relational equity. Be creative and be yourself in saying thank you, however here are a couple suggestions. Write thank you notes or letters of gratitude. You may have done this in the past when prospecting clients and then dropped the discipline after years of rainmaking. Words matter to people who were important to you and your career, especially in a pivotal moment of transition. Do not treat these notes like Christmas cards: pre-printed with your signature. I also recommend unexpected gifts of appreciation. Think thoughtfully and intentionally, and not extravagant nor boilerplate.
When it comes down to it, life and business are all about relationship. A lateral move to another law firm is a big career transition that warrants healthy communication and honor. A move does not have to be cloaked in mystery and awkwardness. Take the opportunity to reaffirm what you appreciate about your former firm and your colleagues. Honor the partnership. Finally, the single greatest source of new clients is attorney referrals. Enough said.
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For more information on lateral moves, order Chris Batz’s Lateral Moves: A Guide for Partners and Law Firms available now on Amazon.
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