What You Need to Know About Leaving Law Firms
  • What is an example of a scenario where an associate may decide to leave their current firm? An example of a situation where an associate may decide to move on from their current firm is if they have been routinely required to work late nights and weekends and need more reasonable expectations.
  • What can lead to an attorney's decision to leave a firm? Lack of support from supervisors and partners, lack of advancement opportunities, and toxic work environments are all factors that could lead to an attorney's decision to leave a firm.
  • How can lawyers ensure they make the right choice when selecting a law firm? Lawyers should ensure that any law firm they choose offers them the support and opportunity for growth necessary for their success. It is also essential to understand why attorneys leave law firms so that informed decisions can be made.
  • How can lawyers stay on top of why attorneys leave big law firms? Lawyers should research the reasons behind an attorney's decision to leave a big law firm, such as lack of job security or opportunity and a toxic work environment. Additionally, they should be aware of any changes in the legal industry that may affect their job prospects.
  • What should aspiring attorneys know about the competitive nature of the legal field? Aspiring attorneys should be aware that the legal field can be highly competitive and that they may need to make sacrifices to succeed. They should also research the strategies of successful lawyers so that they can learn from their examples.
Leaving a law firm can be a difficult decision. You may have invested a lot of time and energy into your job and may be wondering what the future holds for you. If you are a lawyer considering leaving your law firm or have already decided to leave, it's essential to understand why attorneys leave big law firms. In this article, we will discuss the top reasons why associates leave law firms. We hope this information will help you make the best decision for your career!

Top Reasons for Quitting Big Law Firms

Unfulfilling work

Many lawyers find their day-to-day work at a big law firm could be more challenging and rewarding. It can lead to boredom and frustration with the job, leading to an eventual decision to leave. Unfulfilling work can also lead to a lack of professional growth, as associates need to be exposed to more variety in their daily tasks.
Example scenario:
  • When a lawyer is tasked with the same project repeatedly, they may become frustrated, leaving biglaw firms to search for more meaningful work.

Lack of Work-life Balance

Many big law firms are known for demanding hours, which can take its toll on most people who struggle to find time for family and personal activities. Unpredictable schedules make it challenging to maintain healthy relationships, pursue hobbies, and take care of personal responsibilities. It can also affect the lawyer's mental health.
Example scenario:
  • Suppose an associate is expected to be available for calls at any time and is routinely required to stay late at the office. In that case, they may decide to look for a job with a better balance between their professional and personal lives, thus giving lawyers a much more comfortable life.

Inadequate Compensation

Legal career experts agree that lawyers should be compensated for their hard work and expertise. Unfortunately, some law firms may need to offer adequate compensation to reward associates for their effort and dedication. It can lead to dissatisfaction with the job and a decision to move on. Other associates often complain that they need to be compensated more for their work or are stuck in a pay-scale system that doesn't reward them for their hard work.
Example scenario:
  • If an associate finds that their pay needs to be keeping up with inflation or market demands, they may decide to quit biglaw and look for a better-paying job. It is important to note that firms may sometimes be willing to negotiate salary and compensation packages, so associates may need to look outside the firm for better opportunities.

Long hours

The billable hours that many associates are expected to work can often lead to burnout. Associates may find that they need more time or energy to pursue outside interests, making them feel isolated and unfulfilled. It can lead them to look for a job where their workload is more manageable and the expectations of their hours are realistic.
Example scenario:
  • An associate who is routinely required to work late at night and on weekends may eventually decide that they need a job with more reasonable expectations.

Unsupportive Culture

The legal industry can be competitive, and the culture at some big law firms can make it difficult for associates to thrive. If associates feel unsupported or unappreciated, they may decide that this is not the right environment. A lack of support from supervisors and partners can lead to unhappiness, leading to an associate's decision to leave.
Example scenario:
  • In a biglaw environment where associates are not given enough direction or feedback on their work, they may feel disconnected from the firm and decide to move on to find a better work environment.

Lack of Advancement Opportunities

Practicing law can be a long-term career, but many associates find that they need to be allowed to move up in their firm. They may feel their career growth needs to progress faster, or there are limited or no opportunities to advance in the firm. This lack of job security and potential can be a significant factor in why attorneys decide to move on.
Example scenario:
  • In biglaw firms, career advancement is often based on how many hours an associate works, not necessarily on their skill level or talent. If an associate feels stuck in a dead-end job and has no prospects for promotion, they may decide to look elsewhere.

Toxic Work Environment

Biglaw associates may find themselves in a work environment where their supervisors and partners do not treat them with respect or value their contributions. It can lead to frustration, anger, and resentment that eventually cause an associate to look for a healthier workplace. Lawyers may feel the firm has a hostile work culture or a lack of respect among other attorneys. A toxic work environment can be detrimental to an associate's career and ultimately lead to their decision to leave the firm. An unhealthy working space also increases stress and creates unhappy lawyers with no sense of accomplishment.
Example scenario:
  • So many lawyers feel that their colleagues are not supportive, and there is a great deal of hostility in the workplace. They may look for a job with a better and healthier working environment that allows them to deliver the best legal services for their clients.


Successful lawyers know their career is a journey and must always stay on top of why attorneys leave big law firms. Being aware of why associates are leaving will help them make informed decisions when it comes to choosing the right firm for themselves. Aspiring attorneys should think carefully about why they want to enter the legal field and why they may need to leave to sign in for a healthy and successful career.

Law students must understand that the legal industry can be competitive, so they should be prepared to work hard and make sacrifices to succeed. They should also ensure that any law firm they choose offers them the support and opportunity for growth necessary for their success. Understanding why attorneys leave law firms is key to a successful legal career.