Reviewing Some Pros and Cons – Quick Tips When Considering a Move
I confess, I am old-school when it comes to many things – including decision-making – particularly when it comes to consequential choices. So when helping potential candidates decide whether to make a lateral move, I begin not with some complex data analysis, but a simple conversation – an unfiltered hashing out of the pros and cons of each option.
It is imperative to have an in-depth discussion about the potential risks and rewards of choosing either path – and by the way, doing nothing is indeed a choice! Taking a deep dive on all relevant issues is critical to the process. It is never an easy decision for a lawyer, no matter the stage of one’s career.
Most often, lawyers are motivated to make a lateral move because of personal or professional dissatisfaction in their current role, some combination of both, or they’re simply made an offer they can’t refuse. Regardless of the reason however, no move should not be taken lightly. I therefore counsel my candidates to think extremely carefully before uprooting.
Below are only a few of many considerations to take into account prior to making a lateral move. Aside from receiving a “dream” job offer that one can’t refuse, some potential scenarios which may weigh in favor of moving, include:
- your practice focus is not ideal at your current firm;
- you are facing meaningful conflicts which impact your business;
- your firm is exerting upward rate pressure which is straining your client relationships;
- compensation is calculated in a way that is not reflective of your contribution to the firm or in a way that incentivizes cross-selling/collaboration; and/or
- your current firm is no longer a cultural fit.
There are situations however, when unhappy lawyers mistakenly believe a lateral move will solve their problems; but likely, it won’t. Some examples of such situations may include:
- you want improved “work-life balance” but are only exploring alternate firms offering more of the same (be careful of a move from the proverbial frying pan into the fire);
- you feel a change of scenery is in order/you’re bored (be wary of too many moves!);
- you are happy and in good standing but receive an offer with a modest bump in compensation (it’s probably not worth giving up what is otherwise a good thing for an inconsequential raise);
- a new position may pay a bit more or offer a more well-known name, but you would be working closely with a colleague with whom you are not a personality match (this could make for many long, challenging days); and/or
- you’ve been offered a new role which would give you a title change only (you’re better off looking beyond shiny, bright titles – which after all, are only words – and be holistic in your assessment).
In sum, a lateral move is not a catch-all solution to every issue; but it can be a cure to certain problems. The critical piece is ensuring that you are thoughtful and deliberate in your process, such that you are confident in your ultimate decision.
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Cindy Finn, Esq.
Associates, Counsel, and Partners