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Law

Generally speaking, how long should you stay at a firm before leaving without a good excuse (other than that you don’t like it and want to move on to bigger and better things)? I want to leave my current firm but haven’t been here even a year yet and was only at my previous firm for a year and a half, so I’m worried about looking like a flake.

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The real answer is you stay there until you can get the job that you want instead. If that is now then it’s now, if its when you think the job market is settled then that is the time.

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Once is easy enough to explain. Twice looks like a pattern. If I saw a resume from someone whose first to jobs lasted a year and a half and less than I year, I’d be unlikely to give it serious consideration, fair or not. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s the reality.

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I’m with you. I’m getting very restless at my job that I’ve had for about 6 months. My office is disorganized to say the least and I’m being vastly underutilized. I’m torn as to whether staying on another 6 months might actually hurt me career-wise, as I’m gaining very little in the way of skills/experience. Seems like the common advice in this thread is to stay.

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Yeah, it’s really frustrating too. I did all my due diligence before accepting this offer, but for one reason or another the things I was told did not turn out to be true for me. So now I’m basically stuck at a job I would’ve never accepted if I had known what it was really like. Basically feels a bit like being an indentured servant because regardless of what they do, I can’t leave until another year or two. And in the meantime, I just have to suck it up and do my best to make lemonade out of these lemons.

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Stay at least 1 year unless presented with the opportunity of a life time.

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For context, I left my old firm because I wanted to move to a different city and practice area, and while I was open to the idea of this current firm being my forever home, I also took this position because this firm’s solid reputation would make it a good stepping stone to a larger firm. Unfortunately, many of the things I was told during the interview process have turned out to be misrepresentations, particularly with respect to the opportunities I would have to develop as a lawyer, and I’m working way harder than I’d like without getting paid even close to market. And I’ve considered the impact of the pandemic and don’t think it is the cause of my complaints. Also, I understand that I will probably, at the very least, have to wait until the job market begins to return to normal.

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Agreed with above. At least a year. Since you already moved once after a year and a half, the longer you can stick it out at your current firm the better. Without a compelling reason for moves, firms absolutely do look down on frequent moves especially early on in your career.

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I think nowadays though moving frequently early on in your career is pretty acceptable because everyone knows that the first 5 years there’s a lot of trial and error in figuring out what you like, what you’re good at and what kind of professional you want to work to become. That’s even more true if you come out of law school in a bad economy where I think people understand that it’s tough so you’ll go wherever the opportunities are better which may mean lots of quick moving

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I would say 2 years.

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It's nice to be able to stay through one review period and show potential employers that you're not being asked to leave. But life is short, so if you're not happy, start looking.

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Honestly, I look at 3 year chunks for previous employment. One less than 3 year stint, fine, maybe it was a bad match. Two and I’m going to ask questions. Three and I will be pretty sure the problem is you and not the firms and it is unlikely I will look long at your resume unless you come recommend by someone I trust who knows and can explain your history.

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In my experience, the majority of firms are good firms. When I hire an associate, the first year is a slush year. I expect to invest in the associate in that year in training and coming up to speed on our firm’s practices. The second year, the associate should be into a good groove. The third year, we are finally humming along and working well together. If I expect an associate is unlikely to stay 3 years, it is not worth my making the first year investment. One bad choice of a firm to work for, fine. More than that, and I start to think you are not picking firms that are a good fit for you, or that you have unreasonable expectations, not that you happen to o be unlucky enough to keep accepting employment from bad firms. I realize people can just be really unlucky and make a series of bad picks despite doing their diligence. More often than not though, the employees we have hired that have bounced around that much, there has been a reason why that has a lot more to do with the employee, and I have regretted those hires.

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If you’re really unhappy at a firm don’t bother staying a year. The interview process takes a while so it doesn’t hurt to start applying early.

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