Legal Career Resources

Looking for a New Job Is Not Always a Good Choice for Attorneys
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

happy attorney

Summary: There are many reasons that attorneys find acceptable for leaving a firm when they find themselves unhappy with it, but most of their reasons are not good enough.

In the article, “15 Reasons Law Firm Attorneys Should Not Look for New Jobs,” Harrison Barnes gets tough on attorneys that think they can find something better out there when they are motivated to leave their job in a law firm for the wrong reasons. While there are times when an attorney should look for a new job, these are for the ones that shouldn’t.


Read the full article here: 15 Reasons Law Firm Attorneys Should Not Look for New Jobs.

Feeling Unappreciated

It is a normal feeling for an attorney to feel unappreciated. No one is ever really satisfied with their job and the amount of money they get for it. A lot of this feeling comes from the fact that working in a law firm is not a soft, cozy place. Law firms thrive on an environment of getting down to business. Competition is fierce with everyone focusing on their own needs before thinking of anyone else.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!

Too Much Work

Law firms and their attorneys need a lot of work in order to collect money and stay in business. Attorneys put in long hours that they don’t get fully compensated for. Having too much work can lead an attorney to be overstressed and looking for a way out. That being said, young attorneys need to work the large amount of hours to gain experience so that they can get even closer to becoming a partner. Leaving a law firm to go in-house, into government, or elsewhere during the crucial first five years of your career causes you to miss out on the valuable training that you can never get back.

Low Morale

Law firms have low morale. Low morale comes from mean partners, people getting fired, clients leaving, cases being lost, layoffs take over, there being too much or not enough work, compensation being below the standard, bonuses not being paid, people are not making partner, and bad press on the firm. Very few firms have high morale and if they do, it doesn’t last long.

Following the Crowd

Others attorneys are leaving so you assume you should too. When other attorneys are leaving, generally this means they are unhappy with their job. Unhappiness spreads like a wildfire, resulting in every attorney becoming dissatisfied with their job when they started out being perfectly content. Spend time with those that are happy and like their job because their satisfaction will rub off on you.

Poor Review

So you got a poor review. Big deal. If you review was so bad the firm would have fired you. The review was harsh because the law firm wants to see you improve, which would make them look better as well. As a young attorney, you are still learning the ropes. Start billing more hours and that poor review will likely turn into a good review and then there will be no reason to look for another job.

Boutique = Happiness

Attorneys at large law firms have this dream that boutique law firms are the place to be. The pressures they feel in their large law firm make them think that every other type of law firm is free of pressure. The problem is that all law firms face the pressure of making enough money to survive. At boutiques, there is less staff to fall back on to get your work done so everything is up to you to get everything done.

Lack of Authority

Attorneys that have worked for years with a large law firm often lack chances to show their leadership abilities in trial or elsewhere. As Barnes explains, “being upset about not having enough authority can be interpreted as a good sing because it shows you are ambitious, hungry, and want to improve,” but “this is not a good reason to look for a new position.”

Not Going to Make Partner

If you are getting up there in years of experience and you know you will not make partner, you should give your firm more time if they aren’t asking you to leave. As an senior associate, you will likely be making a lot of money so if the firm is not looking to get you out, then don’t stress about leaving because you will likely be leaving for a position that pays a lot less at another firm.

Unhappiness Must Be Because of the Firm

Attorneys are not always the happiest of individuals but not because of the place they work. The personality types of many attorneys are so competitive that they are never happy. Very few attorneys will ever be fully happy even in the best of law firms.

Practice Areas

Sometimes attorneys think that if they change practice areas they will be happier. Chances are the reason you ended up in the practice area you are in is because you excelled in that area. To switch to another area because it sounds like it would be more fun or has more exciting cases does not mean you will do well. In the end, legal work is pretty much the same with very minor differences but those differences can make a big difference into how well you do.


No one in any job is completely excited about it day in and day out. Doctors have a lot of exciting work but they also have a lot of paperwork to fill out. Professional athletes get to compete but they also have to deal with the pain of working and tearing down their body. Actors get to enjoy taking on new personas for their job but they also have to deal with the pressure of trying out for parts. Attorneys are in search of excitement but moving around a lot leaves them with no roots or connections. Find excitement in your past times outside of work.

Going In-House

Attorneys get the idea that going in-house takes away all the stress and will give them more free time. Once an attorney goes in-house, getting out is hard but they will have to at some point because they are seen as a cost to the company instead of a profit to the firm.


If you have a mentor or close ally inside the firm, then there is no reason to leave. To have someone like a partner protecting you at your current firm is invaluable. Even though you may not be getting as much money as you could by going elsewhere, you are certain to make partner with them fighting for you. Finding someone at a new firm that will think as highly as you will be difficult, if not impossible.

Future in the Firm

When your law firm likes your work and is telling you that you have a future, why would you give that up to move to another firm? There is always a possibility of things working out with your first law firm so risking that to try things out with a new firm can be damaging.

Desire to Try Another Career

Once you get into a law firm, it is your one chance to succeed. Leaving the law firm world to try something else out and then to try and return as if nothing happened is not possible. The firm will remember that you left once and assume you would do it again so they won’t take the chance again nor will any other large law firm. There are always exceptions but very few and usually in special situations.

To learn more about being a happy attorney, read these articles:




Associate Attorney


ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY McKenna Snyder LLC, a law firm in Exton, PA has an immediate opening for an ex...

Apply now



Qualifications: HaasCaywood is seeking associate attorneys for our Coldwater and Sturgis, Michiga...

Apply now



Qualifications: HaasCaywood is seeking associate attorneys for our Coldwater and Sturgis, Michiga...

Apply now

Deputy General Counsel / Senior Deputy General Counsel


Cal Cities Culture and Mission Cal Cities is dedicated to creating a collaborative and inclusive ...

Apply now




Search Now

Education Law Attorney

USA-CA-El Segundo

El Segundo office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law attorney with ...

Apply Now

Education Law Attorney


Carlsbad office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law attorney with 4-...

Apply Now

Education Law and Public Entity Attorney

USA-CA-El Segundo

El Segundo office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law and public ent...

Apply Now

Most Popular


To Top