How to Explain “Legal Job Hopping

Law firm hopping” is taken into account by law firms assessing your qualifications. Having moved several times in a short timespan can, in fact, impact your ability to get a legal job because it leads law firms to question your loyalty and long-term commitment to what you do.
In addition, moving several times in a short timespan gives law firms the indication that you may have moved because:
  1. your work wasn’t well-received,
  2. you may have been asked to leave, or
  3. you’re unable to get along with others in a legal work environment. 

None of this is to say that any of the above factors may be relevant to your reasons for moving in the past. It’s important to realize, however, what law firms are thinking, and that their thoughts (without even hearing your explanation) will have a strong influence on their decision to interview you.
Your reasons for moving need to make sense. The reasons that typically make the most sense to potential law firms are (a) quality or type of legal work, (b) structural changes with your law firm, or (c) location. While these are the best reasons for making a move, it’s important to note that attorneys who’ve moved several times have done so because (a) their work wasn’t well received, (b) they were asked to leave, or (c) they were unable to get along well with others in their legal work environment. If you mention any of these reasons to a law firm, you are unlikely to get hired. It’s important in any legal job search that you emphasize reasons for moving that aren’t likely to prejudice law firms against you.
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A. Quality or Type of Legal Work

It’s permissible for attorneys to move due to the quality or type of work they do. For example, a lawyer might move to bring about a transition from litigation to transactional work (or vice versa). If that’s the case, such a move makes perfect sense and law firms won’t be prejudiced against the attorney for doing so. In addition, if you want to do more sophisticated legal work, that will also make sense. During the boom in corporate work in the late 1990s and the first part of 2000s, many corporate attorneys from smaller law firms moved to larger law firms. Here, a suitable explanation for moving was almost always because they wanted to get more “public company work” or be staffed on larger deals. Explanations such as these were almost always considered permissible.