The Right and Wrong Reasons for Attorneys to Switch Law Firms: Should You Look for, or Accept a New Law Firm Job?

When I am working with any attorney, the number one thing that law firms want to know is why the attorney is looking for a new job. Firms will ask recruiters about this in every way they can in order to understand if the potential candidate is moving for the right or wrong reasons. The attorney’s education and experience are relevant to getting the law firm interested, but in order to really get the candidate through the door and hired the most important question is always going to be related to why the attorney is looking for a new job. There is no other more important question.
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

When law firms decide not to move forward with someone after an interview and give reasons such as “not enough relevant experience” and similar “generic” explanations, the real reason the law firm rejects the candidate is generally because it believes the attorney is looking for a job for the wrong reasons. If you are looking for a new position for the wrong reasons, you are not going to stay at your next job either. Law firms want people who will be stable, work hard and not create trouble. There are warning signs about future drama and trouble and law firms know the signs very well. There are right reasons and wrong reasons to look for a job and law firms are only interested in people who are looking for jobs for the right reasons.
Joining a law firm should be a decision as serious as choosing a marriage partner. Some people make decisions in a reckless manner and pay a terrible price. People marry for a variety of reasons: compatibility, money, social mobility, looks, security, sex, companionship, stability, challenge and more. Today, the majority of marriages end in divorce and an even greater number of attorneys end up moving law firms (and legal jobs) more than a few times. Because a job is such an important thing, any decision to switch firms should be made for the right reasons. Moreover, if you want to get hired at a new firm you sure as heck better know how to frame your reasons for looking for a new job appropriately.