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by Vault Law Editors | February 08, 2011


The most difficult part of quitting your job is looking your boss in the eye and informing him or her that you’re out. Working at a law firm complicates the process even more because you usually don’t have one boss—you have an entire team of bosses known as the partnership. Of course, unless you’re in a small firm with just a few partners, you’re not expected to knock on each partner’s door to give your resignation. Instead, you have to make a VIP list of the people to whom you’ll bid a formal adieu. Below are some tips on building your resignation list.

1.First Contact: Before you run to your favorite partner’s office to give notice, find out if your firm has a go-to person for resignations. More likely than not, you’ll want to give your formal notice to the head of the Human Resources department or Personnel department. Check your employee handbook (that giant book you received on your first day that has been living with the dust bunnies on the bottom of your desk drawer) for your firm’s formal procedure, or speak with colleagues who have left your firm to see what they did. You can also ask a more senior associate who has seen people leave and is in-the-know (but only if you can completely trust him or her not to spill your news). If you’re not sure what to do, you should head to Human Resources—they handle employee matters, and if they’re not the right contact, they’ll direct you where to go. Make sure to ask your first contact for a period of time to inform partners and colleagues on your own—it’s better for you to give the news to your VIPs yourself.

2.Working Relationships: Once you give your formal notice, you should inform each partner with whom you’re currently working. You should notify these partners in-person. You may be leaving, but you want to maintain the relationships you’ve built with these people—an email or a text will not go over well (unless the partner is out of the office for a while, in which case try to catch him or her by phone before sending an email). Sit down with each partner and tailor your “script” to that partner: what did you learn from him or her, what will you take away from the experience, etc. Then determine what you need to do to wrap-up your work on the case.

3.Cut off the Assignments: Your next stop should be to see the assigning partner, if you have one. He or she will have to reassign your cases and plan out future assignments without you on the roster, so it’s important to keep him or her up-to-date.

4.Your Favs: Next, you should move on to the partners and senior associates with whom you have relationships: your mentors, those you’ve enjoyed working with in the past and anyone else with whom you have a bond. Meet with them in-person and let them know the impact they’ve had on your career. It’s important to maintain these valuable relationships.

5.The Associate Crew: Once the VIP partners (and favorite senior associates) are in-the-know, focus on your co-workers. As a courtesy, you should let everyone on your current matters know that you’ve resigned. You don’t have to meet with everyone in person—if you’re particularly close with certain associates, you certainly can—but you should at least pick up the phone and let them know. Beyond your present workload, which associates you decide to notify is up to you.

6.Staff: Don’t forget to inform your assistant of your departure. He or she dedicates a portion of time to you each day and should know that his or her daily duties may change. Plus your assistant will probably be helping you wrap up loose ends as you near your last day. You should also inform any legal assistants on your current matters.

Your resignation VIP list isn’t as exclusive as you may have hoped—quitting a law firm involves a lot of notifications. And while everyone will eventually hear about your departure through HR or your departure memo, that doesn’t replace a personal goodbye from you. You might be leaving your firm, but you should be taking your network with you.

Read More:
Pucker Up and Kiss Your Legal Job Goodbye: How to Quit
Kiss Your Legal Job Goodbye: Relax
Kiss Your Legal Job Goodbye: Be Responsible
Kiss Your Legal Job Goodbye: Maintain Connections



Filed Under: Law