What Should I Do if I Just Lateraled as an Attorney to a New Law Firm and Do Not Like it There? Is it Acceptable to Start Looking for a New Law Firm Right After Starting at a New Law Firm? | BCGSearch.com \n

What Should I Do if I Just Lateraled as an Attorney to a New Law Firm and Do Not Like it There? Is it Acceptable to Start Looking for a New Law Firm Right After Starting at a New Law Firm?


Print/Download PDF

Font Size

Rate this article

101 Reviews Average: 4.9 out of 5

Question: I recently moved to a new firm, but after a few months it has become clear that there were a number of misrepresentations regarding the position. I am not happy with the situation, and want to move on, but since I just recently made the move, am I stuck? Will other firms even consider me?
Lawyer experiences ''Buyer''


If you are in the hunt for a new job (or sometimes even if you aren't), you may encounter an opportunity that seems like the perfect fit, or at least good enough that you are excited to give it a shot. As a young associate, a partner you particularly like working for may decide to switch firms and ask you to come with them to the new firm. If you are a mid-level candidate with excellent credentials and experience but are concerned about partnership opportunities at your current firm, you may find yourself looking into another firm who promises a shorter path on the partnership track.

Even if you are happy where you are, it is never a bad thing to research and explore these types of opportunities. It is even good to do this even if you only want to stay informed about the state of the legal market in your current or future area of expertise. You never know when your situation may change, and it is a good idea to have a sense of your potential value on the open market.

If you do choose to explore a new opportunity, it can often turn out to be a very good thing. You can gain experience on different types of cases, learn from and be mentored by new attorneys with a different outlook, or even just be refreshed by the excitement of the switch and taking on the challenge.

Like anything, however, there is a dark side to this process. It is rare but does occasionally happen that an attorney will find him or herself in a new position where the reality of the situation is far, if not entirely divorced, from what was initially represented or promised to them during the search, interview, and offer phase. Much like the candidate who asked the question above, I have a couple of friends who have found themselves in less-than-ideal situations soon after having made a job switch.

One followed a partner he liked to a new firm, but due to a lack of available work from that partner he was stuck exclusively on cases with a different partner who turned out to be entirely unpleasant to work with. Another friend joined a firm as a staff associate with the promise that she would be made a full associate after the first review period - two positive review periods came and went, and she was still a staff associate at a substantially reduced salary. A third friend specifically left one big firm to be a staff associate at a different firm for reduced pay in exchange for a lower billable hours requirement to achieve a better work/life balance. After a full nine months of 200+ hours per month due to the workload he was assigned, it became clear that the contracted arrangement for more manageable hours was illusory.

Back to the original point, if you find yourself in a similar position, it is certainly reasonable to want to start your search again. However, it is absolutely true that firms are less likely to consider, or will at least be very wary of a candidate with multiple moves on their resume.

Pretend you are a hiring partner at a large law firm. The hiring process is time consuming and expensive - filling the position of even a basic associate involves reviewing hundreds of resumes, scheduling interviews with your firm's busy attorneys (who are not billing client work if they are interviewing prospective hires), and running conflict checks, not to mention the logistics and expense on the human resources end (benefit enrollment, preparing an office, training, etc.). And once you have that new attorney, it takes them time to get up to speed on their caseload, some of which might not be billed to the client depending on that attorney's experience level. Regardless of any given candidate's superstar credentials, you want someone who will stick around so you aren't repeating the same process a year or two later. You should be able to understand at this point why multiple moves on a resume might raise a red flag, or at least make a hiring partner somewhat wary of that particular candidate.

If you are the candidate with that resume, and especially if you have made a move very recently, you may not be entirely stuck where you are. However, you are likely at a considerable disadvantage due to the above considerations on the part of hiring partners. One option is, of course, to stick it out and try to make the best of your current situation. If you are reading this far into the article, however, it is probably because that option has little to no appeal.

The other option is to start the search process now, regardless of whether you will be able to move right away, and I would highly recommend engaging the services of a good legal recruiter. A good recruiter will provide you with an honest evaluation of your situation and potential chances. Even if your recruiter advises you that waiting a little longer will be better or even necessary, establishing this relationship as soon as possible will expedite the application process when opportunities arise or it makes sense to move forward with your search. A good recruiter will also be able to help you get a better look from firms by writing a strong cover letter on your behalf, specifically one that helps explain your moves (and your desire for a new job) in the best light possible. Much like writing a persuasive brief for a court, you and your recruiter must always be 100% honest with any potential employer, but presenting things in the right way can make all the difference in the world.

In sum, if you have recently made a move or have a series of moves on your resume, moving forward and getting consideration from new employers may be more difficult, but no matter what your situation there is always a way to improve your odds.

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

AGREE/DISAGREE? SHARE COMMENTS ANONYMOUSLY! We Want to Hear Your Thoughts! Tell Us What You Think!!

We've changed thousands of lives over the past 20 years, and yours could be next.

When you use BCG Attorney Search you will get an unfair advantage because you will use the best legal placement company in the world for finding permanent law firm positions.