Question: I am three years out of law school (first-tier school, middle of the pack in terms of grades). I worked briefly as a clerk for a government agency and have spent the past year and a half at a small firm. I feel that I have gained all that I can from this firm and would like to move to a larger firm to get a wider range of experience.

How do I go about this without jeopardizing my position here, and how should I handle requests to speak to my current employer? The partners in the firm will react negatively if they learn that I intend to leave - it would make my time here a living hell.

How should you handle requests to speak with your current law firm when applying to new firms?

Answer: Good questions! First of all - and most important - never, never, never let someone speak to your current employer until:
 
  1. An offer of employment has been extended
  2. You have accepted that offer
  3. You have told the people at your firm that you have accepted an offer
  4. You have told the people at your firm that someone will be calling to check references.

There is absolutely no reason on earth that a potential employer should feel compelled to contact your firm prior to you accepting an offer of employment. You are absolutely correct in thinking that the partners at your firm would react negatively if they found out that you were interviewing.