These days, it is difficult to imagine being pinned down to one job, or even career, for the remainder of one’s working life. Employees spend 4.6 years in any one job on average, so given you are very likely at some point in your career to have to resign – how best should you go about it, particularly in the legal job market.

It is our experience that you should always set out to leave your job the ‘right way’; ensuring, professional relationships with former colleagues and supervisors are maintained. In the relatively contained world of the legal profession, networks can be intricate and news travels fast.

Communicating your decision

Provided that you feel secure about your next steps, inform your colleagues and supervisors about your departure early to avoid setting the stage for rumour. The rumour mill can be detrimental to your reputation and relationships if your notice is not handled graciously. Typically it is best to submit a written resignation letter, both as a formality and as an expression of your professionalism.

There is wisdom in meeting with your boss, to discuss your reasons (in a positive light), to discuss how best to allocate your time over the notice period and to decide what needs to be done before you leave.

Dealing with Restrictive Covenants

If you are in private practice dealing with restrictive covenants can be a worry, particularly if they are ambiguous, but talking about them with your employer sensibly and sensitively is the way forward. Perhaps it might even be worth taking some friendly legal advice before you do so, thus understanding your legal stance when it comes to ‘your’ clients , what you can and cannot do and more importantly understanding what is ‘reasonable?’ in the context. In any event clients never like being told who they can and cannot instruct as their lawyer, so don’t fret too much, those clients who you have personal relationships with are extremely likely to want to know where you are moving to.

Undertaking (and completing) your closing responsibilities with a positive attitude goes a long way to cementing future professional relationships, even if feathers have been ruffled by news of your departure, take things slowly and professionally and it will all go smoothly in the end.

Reasons for leaving

The reasons for leaving a job in LawWhatever the kaleidoscope of motivations for leaving your job – even if you’re just taking time off – share the same, focused reasons with everyone. An inconsistent message supports unwanted gossip, and being overly secretive or dishonest about your future plans will irk employers who will find out about your professional advancements eventually.

Exit interviews

At the exit interview, a combination of honesty and positivity is called for. Explaining that you’ve received an offer with great chances for advancement is far better than saying you are fed up with your current situation because it’s heading nowhere. Offering restrained suggestions for improvement can be constructive, but it is always best to avoid venting or engaging in emotional conversations about yourself or other employees.


Leaving a job can be difficult after working somewhere for a long time. A final tip: don’t bad-mouth your former employer or colleagues at your new workplace. News travels fast.

In the heat of the moment it may be difficult to manage the trickier exit hurdles. The consultants at EJ Legal have seen most of the challenges before and can provide expert guidance on the ‘right way’ to leave on a positive note.