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What To Do If You Lose Your Law Firm Job

Female professional packing up the things in her office into a brown box

For many attorneys practicing in Florida, and elsewhere, there will come a point in their legal career when they lose their job. There is no single reason why this may occur during your career. In fact, in most instances, the job loss is due to forces outside your immediate control. For example, the financial viability of the law firm suddenly declines, or your law firm merged with another and you were deemed “duplicative” with another attorney. 

For most attorneys, losing their job can be quite traumatic and overwhelming. For some, they may have invested several years into helping grow the law firm and, suddenly, firm leadership decides they no longer need you. Some attorneys get a “sense” of major upheaval at their firm and are prepared, at a certain level, for the dismissal. Other attorneys, however, are completely shocked when they are let go and have difficulty adjusting to the sudden loss of work, purpose, and income.

How You Respond to This Adversity Will Shape Your Future

If you suddenly lose your law firm job, how you respond to this setback will impact not just your short-term future, but your long-term future as well.  One of the most important tips is to try and mitigate your emotional response. Instead, kick your analytical thinking into gear. For example, here are some critically important steps you need to take immediately after being informed of your termination:

  • Assess the severance package they are offering (e.g., amount of severance pay, impact on health insurance, whether you get additional pay for your accrued vacation time, etc.);
  • Calculate your monthly expenses and analyze how much money you have in your savings to get a sense of how immediate your job search needs to be.

Do Not Sign Any Severance Agreement Until You Fully Understand What Is Negotiable

When you are let go, it is becoming quite common for law firms to ask departing employees to sign a nondisparagement agreement and other similar documents. In return, the firm may give you additional severance or other compensation. However, before you agree to sign anything, you need to understand what is negotiable and what is not.

Do Not Announce You Were Fired on Social Media

When you lose your job, it is not wise to announce to the entire world that you were fired. Why? Because your reputation as a skilled, competent, and successful attorney is extremely important. Despite your need for moral support, nothing productive or positive will come from spreading the news of your termination on Facebook, Twitter, etc. You should also refrain from speaking negatively about your former firm and your former colleagues. It is never appropriate to hop on Facebook and trash the people you worked with. It only creates additional consternation and makes you look unprofessional. Furthermore, a reckless social media post could wind up harming your future job prospects since many law firms and other organizations will conduct an online search of you and may find your post.

Try to Secure as Much Time as Possible with Your Current Firm In Order to Locate a New Job

Numerous studies have shown that it is much easier to land a new job when you are currently employed rather than unemployed. This is why one of the most important things you should try to negotiate with your law firm is keeping your position and staying on the firm’s website for as long as possible.

Depending on the firm, they will often give you anywhere between thirty days and six months to find a new position. In many instances, the smaller the law firm, the less time they will provide you.

Be Proactive About Searching for a New Job

Many attorneys who are let go from their law firm job may think, “Oh well, at least I can take a long-awaited vacation and enjoy a few months off before getting another job.” This is a bad idea. Complacency is your enemy. You need to apply to as many law firm job openings as possible. Why? Because the clock is ticking on when your current position disappears, and you are officially “unemployed.” You should take the time while you are still listed on the firm web site to aggressively apply to as many job openings as possible. This will help improve the chances that you will land another job quickly. Once you’ve landed that new job, you can negotiate a start date and still take a well-deserved vacation.

Are You Looking for a New Law Firm Job? Work with a Legal Recruiter

If you were let go from your law firm job, the time for action is now! You need to get your resume out there and apply for as many openings as possible to protect your long-term future. One of the best ways to improve your odds of landing a great law firm job is by working with a legal recruiter.