Make sure you don’t leave your law firm for the wrong reasons.

Many law firm attorneys at some point in their careers—six months or thirty years out—decide that they need to find new jobs. There are concrete reasons that many should find new jobs; however, in over half of cases it is generally inadvisable for attorneys to look for new positions.
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

For attorneys who are unhappy, the problem is generally not where they are currently working; the problem is generally the attorney and how the attorney is thinking about his or her position.


1. You Are Compensated Well but Feel Unappreciated

Just about all attorneys inside of law firms feel unappreciated.
Law firms are not “warm and fuzzy” places at all. I sit in law firm lobbies all the time, and now that I am getting older I also go to my fair share of funerals and sit around funeral homes. People are nicer at funerals, say hello more often, hug one another, and the atmosphere of a funeral home is more welcoming than a law firm. You do not hear a lot of laughter in law firms and people are not very nice to one another. People smile when they see each other in funeral homes, but people typically do not smile too often in law firms. In law firms, people who have known each other for years pass in the halls without smiling or acknowledging one another.

In a law firm, it is rare to hear a “thank you” and people are notoriously competitive with each other: This is the nature of the beast and it is not going to change by going to another firm. You are not going to get hugs or be appreciated.
In the few decades I have been in recruiting, one of the most interesting things I have seen is the phenomenon of talented attorneys with top credentials being upset because they are not treated as special people by law firms just because of their great credentials. Law firms want you to be smart, motivated, and look good to their clients. They like it when you have good credentials, of course, but they are paying you to be there to learn and to work. Regardless of your level, the law firm is your employer, and the people you are working for experience all sorts of stresses of their own. They do not have the time to appreciate you. The appreciation you receive comes in the form of your paycheck, bonus, and the right to work there.