Should I Look for Other Opportunities If My Firm Recently Laid Off Staff? |

Should I Look for Other Opportunities If My Firm Recently Laid Off Staff?


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Question: I am happy at my firm, but I’ve noticed that they recently laid off a sizeable number of staff and are cutting corners financially. The partners tell me that everything is fine, but should I be looking into other opportunities?
Should I look for other opportunities if my firm recently laid off staff?

Answer: Put simply, yes. Looking into other possibilities is certainly not an overreaction to this circumstance. It's essential that attorneys are perceptive to what is happening within their firm (and wonderful that you picked up on this recent shift). It's great that you are happy with your firm, but take note - it is always easier to find a job with a job. Typically, you do your best interviewing when you are content with your firm and are under no type of time constraint or pressure. As soon as you feel a hint of anxiety, or a creeping thought that your position might be in jeopardy, the most calm, confident, high energy interviewer can lose his cool and miss the mark.

The fact that your firm has had to lay off staff should not be taken lightly. Firms will not typically disclose financial troubles to associates. It is in the firm's interest to assure associates that everything is fine, so they can keep them happy and working until the last possible moment. As recruiters, we often know of a firm's potential trouble before their own associates.
You are not alone. According to The American Lawyer, seven prestigious firms cut the payroll of staff (six from the AM Law 200) and three firms laid off associates this year already. Six of these firms saw a notable decline for profits per partner in 2013. While everything may be going well from your perspective, it is valid and advisable to be cautious under such circumstances. Just because we are edging out of the recession does not mean that every firm passed through unscathed. There may still be some remnants as the economy corrects itself and firms adjust to the "new normal."

As I always tell my candidates, give yourself as many options as possible! Since you are happy, you are likely to interview well. The only career move you would potentially make would be to a better opportunity that would allow you to grow your career. You are not interested in side or down-stepping, so in an interview you will come across as someone that is looking to run toward something (to enhance your career), not someone who is running away. This always makes for a stronger candidate.

Since you would be targeting opportunities that would likely strengthen your career, it is possible that you could find a better situation and end up accepting an offer with another entity, in which case, great!

If some time passes and it becomes clear that there is nothing to worry about with respect to your present firm and you haven't found anything better, then at least you were able to investigate some opportunities that gave you solid insight as to the landscape of the market. While interviewing, you were also likely to have met people that you could possibly work with in the future and forge some instrumental relationships. This is still not a bad outcome.

If it turns out that your firm is going through a rough patch, then you have successfully provided yourself with the best opportunities to move forward and to keep yourself marketable.

Triedman, Julie. "Profit Pressure Prompting Firm Leaders to Swing Ax." The American Lawyer. 15 April 2014 -

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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,, and, 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

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.

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