Making the decision to leave your present law firm can be daunting. Ironically, even as a recruiter, I often advise attorneys that sometimes, the best move is not making one at all. Many attorneys discover that the challenges they face tend to diminish with time, provided they remain persistent and patient.

The recollections of my children’s early involvement in competitive team sports come to mind. Some parents, year after year, orchestrated moves for their young athletes, citing grievances like inadequate playtime, perceived slow progress, or the team’s purported lack of competitiveness. In most cases, these frequent switches hindered the child’s growth. On the contrary, children who remained committed to one team, despite the initial setbacks, eventually saw improvement. Their persistence paid off in terms of enhanced skills, more playing time, and even their team moving to more competitive brackets. Similarly, in the legal profession, enduring and confronting challenges directly often yields better results than evading them.

An adage reverberates in my mind: “The grass may indeed be greener on the other side,but it is just as hard to mow.” Transitioning to a new firm often only means exchanging one set of challenges for another.

Nonetheless, it’s essential to acknowledge that certain circumstances indeed warrant a change in law firms. In the following sections, we will explore three common misguided reasons that drive lawyers to consider a move and offer a more reasoned perspective on each.

Misguided reason #1: I am not making enough money.

A better question: What is my long-term earning potential at my current law firm? We often see attorneys chase short-term money that puts them in a position of being “stuck” later. Some firms do not pay service partners very well but reward heavily for business development. If you are a partner who has business development aspirations and your firm provides a great platform for this at the expense of not paying at the top of the market for those who have not developed business yet, perhaps it makes sense to stick it out at your current firm. You might make less money now but ultimately make more and be at a firm that is a better fit for you. Of course, if you are a service partner and business development is not something you aspire to, then contemplating a move may be warranted.

On the other hand, perhaps you are a partner at a firm that sets your bill rate very high which hinders your business development potential. Maybe the firm pays service partners relatively well but you can see that ultimately, you are not going to reach the next earning level without developing business and your firm is not the best platform for this. This might be a good reason to consider a move.

Misguided reason #2: My firm does not allow me to work from home.

Don’t get me wrong. Certainly, there are situations where the only feasible option is to work remotely full-time. Perhaps a person has family demands that require that person to be at home. This person has no other option but to find an opportunity that allows remote work. That said, we find many attorneys who have nothing preventing them from going to the office but just feel they would be happier working from home. The reality is that in many cases, attorneys are less satisfied working from home. They often feel disconnected from their colleagues. The relationship people have with their coworkers is a big driver not only in job satisfaction but also collaboration and the ability to develop new client relationships.

What might be a better question to ask is: Is the firm known for fostering a collaborative work environment without placing excessive emphasis on physical presence in the workplace at all times?

Misguided reason #3: I am not getting enough help.

Not getting the support you need can be very frustrating. It is important to not look at this issue in a vacuum. Why are you not getting the support you need? Is it due to the recent talent wars that we have seen causing associates to move among firms? If so, this might not be the best reason to move to a firm as this can change quickly. On the other hand, if your firm does not support your practice and is unwilling to provide the appropriate marketing support and unwilling to hire, then perhaps contemplating a move is warranted.

Two good questions to ask: Does my firm value and are they willing to support my practice? When it comes to recruiting associates, does my firm offer a compelling narrative that underscores the long-term potential for associates, even if it means prioritizing their career development over immediate financial gains?

To summarize, the decision to stay or go should be guided by a thoughtful assessment of your career goals, your firm’s alignment with those goals, and a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities each path may present. Sometimes just talking through your long-term objectives can help determine if you are in the best place. We at Aspire are here to assist you with this introspective process, and you can reach out to us without any obligation or pressure. Your aspirations matter, and we’re here to help you realize them to the fullest extent possible. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us whenever you feel ready to embark on this introspective journey.