Top 5 Reasons Attorneys Leave Law Firm Jobs Voluntarily |

Top 5 Reasons Attorneys Leave Law Firm Jobs Voluntarily


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Summary: Learn the five most common reasons attorneys choose to leave their law firms and what these choices may mean for their future.
Top 5 Reasons Attorneys Leave Law Firm Jobs Voluntarily

  • Attorneys leave law firms on a continual basis.
  • The reasons why they leave can vary from lawyer to lawyer.
  • Hopefully, these attorneys have a good reason as to why they’re leaving.
  • That reason will have a lot to do toward them getting a position at a new firm.

There are many reasons that attorneys leave law firms, just as there are many reasons they choose to stay. The reasons you choose to leave (and how you explain these to other firms) can make it harder or easier to get a position at another firm. Here are the five most common reasons attorneys choose to leave their firm:
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes
  1. You left to start a business. This suggests a lack of commitment. If you have done this, the odds of you reentering a major law firm again are extremely limited. You will have an almost impossible time because firms will believe that it is close to certain that you will leave again to do something similar. Running most businesses is far different than working in a law firm. If you left to start a business once, the odds are pretty good that the day-to-day hassle of working in a law firm is not going to appeal to you. Moreover, if you were running a business and now want to return to the practice of law, this suggests you failed. That is not good. Law firms want to hire people who have succeeded and not people who have failed. Also, law firms will wonder why you did not go back to your original law firm.
  2. You had a life event that made you leave. If this is true, why not go back to your original law firm? There is nothing wrong with having a life event, but law firms will want to understand how serious this event was and whether the seriousness of this outweighed your commitment to your law firm and practicing law.
  3. You left because of the commute. This is becoming a more and more common reason for attorneys leaving firms. This also suggests a lack of commitment. Your job is expected to take priority over everything. If you have issues with your commute, what will happen if you firm moves offices, or expects even higher hours out of you?
  4. Hostile work environment. If you are in a hostile work environment (and many attorneys are), then your best bet is to get another position while you still work there (as quickly as possible) and not leave before you get another job lined up. You are expected to handle the environment (within reason).
  5. Hours are too much. This suggests the same lack of commitment. Law firms think that you will leave again due to the hours. There are few “lifestyle” law firms in big law. Most law firms will be concerned that when “the peddle gets to the metal” you will not work hard.

See the following articles for more information:
About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and a successful legal recruiter. He is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. His firm BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys. BCG Attorney Search works with attorneys to dramatically improve their careers by leaving no stone unturned in job searches and bringing out the very best in them. Harrison has placed the leaders of the nation’s top law firms, and countless associates who have gone on to lead the nation’s top law firms. There are very few firms Harrison has not made placements with. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placements attract millions of reads each year. He coaches and consults with law firms about how to dramatically improve their recruiting and retention efforts. His company LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

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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