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When is the right time to move on?

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3 months ago by Alice Neal

When is the right time to move on?

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Daily I speak to candidates who have decided the time has come to move on. It is never an easy choice and takes determination and courage to take that step.

There are so many reasons why people decide to move on to a new role, which cannot be condensed into one blog, but a predominant influencing factor that we see time and time again is taking a needed career step.

A newly qualified solicitor or legal executive could conclude their training at a firm that is unable to offer them a new position and therefore are forced to seek a new role. Normally, trainee contracts are highly sought after and perhaps you have taken a role with a firm that isn’t quite the right fit? If you are about to qualify, now is the time to think about what your 5-year career plan is, and considering the type of firms and departments you want to work in. If you’re in a firm that doesn’t match your needs or expectations, then the end of a training contract is a great time to start looking at the market.

Of course, progression isn’t just for the newly qualified solicitors. A mid-level lawyer could feel undervalued and underpaid for work they are producing, particularly so if they have been in the same role for a while, with a lack of progression or promotion. At mid-level, it’s important that you are carving out the career path you need to be able to achieve your professional goals. Are you aiming to be made Partner by 40? It’s important that the firm is offering you a clear route, with signposted steps. Are you in a role that specialises in your chosen field? If not, maybe now is the time to move towards a more niche firm.

Movement amongst senior lawyers isn’t unheard of but is much rarer because of the moves made in earlier careers. However, if you have not been offered the opportunity for Partnership or to become a Director, or perhaps you don’t agree with the way the firm is operating or the direction the firm is moving in then that is going to cause friction. Not being able to join the conversation or influence change can be a major factor in considering moving on.

And of course, there is a multitude of external factors that may be swaying you to look for a new role:

The location of the office may be unmanageable for you any longer. Perhaps your train timetable is making the commute too long, or your recent house move has made the distance too difficult. This is a reasonable justification for wanting to look for a new role.

You may have realised that your salary is low compared to similar size firms, or your peers who are doing a similar role. It is rational to be expected to be paid fairly for the work you do, and not feeling valued can quickly lead to feeling resentful and unhappy in your role. If this is the only reason you are looking to move on, is it worth having the conversation with your superiors?

If you are finding the work restrictive or unchallenging and are unable to take anything more complex or stimulating, this could be a clear indication that you have reached your maximum potential in a role. This is probably the strongest single reason I would encourage a candidate to begin their search for a new role. Being stimulated and interested in your work is so important to your mental health and career progression.

To be able to successfully and authentically promote your firm, you must have belief in your Senior Management Team. If there are conflicts in approaches and different views on priorities, then not being able to stay with the firm is a fair decision to reach.

There is nothing more infuriating that losing billing time to the failings of an IT system. It is entirely reasonable for you to expect decent and modern technology to be able to do the job to the best of your ability. It is a common talking point with clients

Lack of flexibility is a common and re-occurring reason my candidates move. The ability to work from home, to condense or reduce hours and to be able to work to core hours is so important when you have other priorities outside of the workplace. This could be a passion or hobby, family commitments or a commitment to yourself and having your own time. Whatever reason you want flexibility, it is reasonable to request and look for a role that matches your needs.

If you’re currently unsure about your next career step, or want to discuss the current market and live opportunities in further detail, do get in touch and I’ll be happy to have a confidential chat.