written by Roshan Hingorani, Consultant at Lewis Sanders
With momentum picking up again in both private practice and in-house hiring, many lawyers we have recently spoken to have an eye on moving on to new challenges next year. And so, we thought it would be worthwhile providing a refresher on something that seems so simple, yet in reality, can be difficult: resigning from your job. Just as you would want to create positive first impressions when you start a new role, you’d want to make sure your final impressions are just as positive.
Handing in your resignation
Once you’ve secured a new role, make sure you hand in your resignation in a way that conveys respect to your employer.
It is best to speak in person, although this may not always be possible. Apart from ad hoc COVID-19 social distancing measures getting in the way of this in 2020, sometimes a face-to-face resignation simply just isn’t viable. For example, you might need your notice period to start ticking straight away, but your supervisor won’t be back in town for another week. In these situations, it’s up to you to use your judgment to decide if a video call, phone call, or simply a well-crafted email will be adequate.
Whatever mode you decide on, the approach is the same. Thank them for the time you’ve spent with them (yes, even if you’ve not enjoyed it too much!) and their mentorship. Keep it brief and respectful. If you resign verbally, follow it up with a simple resignation letter as that is usually required to commence your notice period.
Be kind but firm
While you should be respectful when handing in your resignation, you also need to be firm about your decision. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you’re contemplating a counter-offer and risk irking both your current and future employers. Plus, there is a ton of literature on why counteroffers are not recommended. Here’s our take on it.
Smoothen the transition
Agree with your supervisor on how your resignation should be communicated to the team, especially if you are a senior member of the team or if your departure will be sensitive for other reasons.
Also, agree on your last day. Your contract should specify your notice period, but if you are looking to shorten this (for example, to meet an early start date being proposed by your new employer) discuss it with your current supervisor. Again, the key is to be respectful.
If there is a proper overlap between you, as the incumbent, and the incoming legal talent, then the handover should be simple. However, this is not usually possible, so you can offer to help out in other ways to smoothen the transition for your team. A good start would be to prepare some sort of status and instructional notes for your successor, as well as to tie up loose ends as much as possible with your stakeholders.
I’ve said this a few times in the above contexts already, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain positive relationships with your peers and supervisors. In the long run, it’s always useful to retain these connections in the market.
If, for example, you intend to work as an in-house legal counsel at a well-known MNC or a bank down the line, there is a strong likelihood that a reference will be taken from the places you’ve worked at previously. It goes without saying that if you leave on good terms, your supervisors will be more willing to provide a good reference for you when you need it.
I hope this is helpful, especially for those of you who have never had to resign before, or if you are thinking about finding a new role in the coming year. We are, of course, always open to conversations about roles in private practice and in-house, so feel free to reach out to me on my email email@example.com for a strictly confidential discussion about how I can help with your career goals moving forward.