You know you’re ready to make a move, but aren’t exactly sure when is the best time to transition. Technically, you can make a change whenever you want to, however, there are times and stages in your career that are more advantageous to do so than others. The key is to make the move while you are currently employed and aren’t forced to take something you don’t want due to circumstances.
When You have Two to Five Years of Experience
As an associate, you’ll probably never be more marketable and in-demand as you are in your second to fifth year of practicing law. This is because you’ve gotten a decent amount of experience under your belt, yet not so much that firms feel that you are too set in your ways and are not coachable.
Although it’s not impossible to get a job with a firm with more than five years of experience, it’s a lot more difficult because you are seen as a liability unless you have a book of business. Law firms have to pay you more money which isn’t offset by the amount of business you’re bringing in. Unless another firm has a pressing need for your expertise, it will be tough to make a transition. Your best bet will be to go in-house or solo.
When Work is Drying Up
If you’re having trouble getting enough work to make your billable hour requirement and have to go door to door to beg partners to give you something to do, it may be time to start looking for a new job.
There could be a number of reasons why work is slowing down. A key partner could have left and took a good bulk of the business with him. Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to start looking elsewhere. The last thing you want is to be given your walking papers because the firm couldn’t afford to keep you when you saw the writing on the wall in enough time to do something to save yourself.
When You Received A Poor Performance Review
Of course you can always turn things around for the better if your last performance review was poor. However, if you know you’re on thin ice at your firm, it’s time to look elsewhere. Keep in mind it’s easier to find a job while you still have a job, so make a move before you’re forced to do so.
When the Firm is No Longer a Good Fit
Perhaps the firm is going in a direction that no longer serves you or your interests. The environment could be toxic or not conducive to your professional development. Either way, admitting to yourself that the firm is no longer a good fit is the first step to finding a position that is more aligned with your long-term goals and desires.