The Jumping Ship Series (Quitting Your Job); Part II – Hear from those who have done it successfully

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In the last part of the series, we discussed some of the factors that young lawyers should consider before making a decision to switch from one law role to the other. Following on from that discussion, we interviewed practicing lawyers who have held multiple roles in the past and asked them to share their experience with us.

In the next two parts of the series, we have condensed the good and the not-so-good feedback we receive from these lawyers. I.e. we will be highlighting the experiences of both those who felt they made a fantastic move, and those who regretted their move. In this part, we would be hearing from those who are pleased with the consequences of their decision to move – how they arrived at the decision and the factors they considered.

Please note that we interviewed several lawyers, but as sentiments expressed by these lawyers were similar in various respects, we have chosen the two interviews we believe would be most helpful to our readers.

At what point did you decide it was finally time to quit your job?

 Respondent 1: On the two occasions I have made a switch, I didn’t get to the point where I was either persuaded or forced to change jobs. On the first occasion, when I moved from a law firm to a telecoms company, I was enticed by better working conditions, remuneration and career advancement. When I later left that role for an oil and gas company, it was mostly for better career challenges and a change of environment.

Respondent 2: I quit my last job when I got an invitation to be part of the pioneer team at a new firm with very lofty goals and expectations. I knew it was time because I was assured I’d finally be doing the sort of work I wanted with a team that recognised and appreciated my skill-set.

How long did you work at your former organization before quitting?

Respondent 1: 3 years

Respondent 2: 1.5 years

How did you search for/come across your new job?

Respondent 1: I stumbled upon the vacancy on one of my daily email job alerts I receive till today.

Respondent 2: The short version of this rather interesting story is that I was invited by the head of the team starting the law firm I now work for.

What was it about the new job that attracted you or sweetened the deal?

Respondent 1: (i) the title; (ii) the exciting prospect of moving to a more structured corporate environment with better-defined structure, roles and progression plan; and (iii) 100%plus increase on my then salary in addition to other “unusual” benefits.

Respondent 2: (i) the opportunity to be on the ground floor of an exciting new challenge; (ii) the opportunity to work closely with some individuals I consider to be mentors; and (iii) a brilliant financial incentive.

What do you wish you had considered before quitting?

Respondent 1: I have no regrets at all. I have been here for 5+ years and know that it will keep getting better.

Respondent 2: Nothing.

Before quitting, what steps did you take to satisfy yourself as much as possible that you were making the right decision?

Respondent 1: I contacted one of the people currently working in the organization to give me insight as to how the organization works. He also gave me information and guidance on how to negotiate my employment terms.

Respondent 2: I consulted my family and sought advice from people who had been in similar situations in the past. I also considered the compatibility of the potential employer with the achievement of my professional goals.

Finally, I asked myself if the risk of leaving my job with a well-known firm with international relationships would pay-off and whether I was likely to be starting from ground zero if I made a mistake with my choice. In the end, I was convinced that I was making the best decision by moving.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the lowest) would you say you made a good or bad decision?

Respondent 1: I would rate it 9.999 just because there is no perfect place to work. This is of course based on my own experience and in comparison to the places I have worked in the past.

Respondent 2: I rate the move an 8. I absolutely believe I made the right decision; the new job has not come without its own new challenges, but I think I am where I need to be at this stage of my life.

Would you go back to your former organization if given the opportunity?

Respondent 1: Most unlikely, except in a very senior role and with a commensurate package.

Respondent 2: I don’t think so.

We believe that it is important to highlight and reemphasize a few important points:

  1. In both instances, the respondents left their firms because they believed that there was a better opportunity for them outside of its walls, and not just because of hardship they were facing at their firms. Please note that this in no way suggests that you should remain at a firm where you are being maltreated or your career progression is severely threatened, however, it is highly essential to note that as Respondent 1 mentioned, there really is no perfect workplace.

 

  1. Both respondents mentioned that they were enticed by the challenges and increased responsibilities that the new roles would bring. We believe that at the core of this is a quest for real career development. This quest is essential for lawyers who are looking to build a strong career, and not just looking for the next ‘in’

 

  1. In both instances, the respondents were also enticed by remuneration and benefits. We are of the view that it is perfectly acceptable to take a new role because of the pecuniary benefits. However, pecuniary benefits should not be the only consideration or even the most important consideration.

 

  1. Both respondents mentioned that they consulted widely and conducted extensive research and due diligence before accepting the new offer. The importance of this cannot be overstressed. As discussed in the last part of the series, speaking to people (insiders, trusted friends, colleagues and mentors), will help you see things from a subjective perspective. A lot of the time, it is difficult to see and judge a situation clearly, when you are affected by it. This is especially so when you have already decided that you would like to accept a job offer; it may be difficult to see any reason why you shouldn’t, except with the help of an outsider.

 

In the next part of the series, we will be speaking to two lawyers who took jobs they wish they hadn’t taken or who made ‘right’ move at the wrong time in their careers.

Stay tuned!

 

Yimika Adesola is the Founder of Legally Engaged and an Associate in the Corporate/Commercial law arm of a top-tier Nigerian law firm.

She advises blue-chip companies on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, and compliance.

She seeks to provide direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers and make better career decisions. Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.

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