How honest is too honest in an exit interview? I am leaving because of problems with one partner in particular but I do not want to burn a bridge in case I ever need the firm in the future.

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TBH, I’ve always been told that you should just say goodbye and leave it at that. You don’t work there anymore, you won’t benefit yourself and you only risk burning your own bridges. Yeah sure, there might be a slight possibility that they will do something about the partner. But it’s a slight one let’s be real about that. And you won’t benefit from it.

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“Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of elderberries.” Bye.

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If you aren’t honest about the toxic work environment you are contributing to the continuation. My firm has a few toxic equity partners in my office who have driven out talented associates & income partners over the last 3-4 decades. People leaving haven’t really called out the behaviors and generally said the new opportunity “fell in my lap” when they were actively looking in order to escape the toxicity. Firms are facing a serious issue in the #MeToo environment and its an employee job hiring market right now.

Be honest and be done with it. You may be helping those you’re leaving behind.

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As long as you are not personally attacking someone for reasons unrelated to the work, I say go for it.
I was brutally honest about how much one partner sucked working for and why, and I felt great afterwards. Super cathartic. I also told the other associates in my group (who hate working with her as well) what I had said, in the hopes that they may feel more confident to speak up too at some point.

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Without pinpointing that partner, discuss generally management style/preparedness etc.

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I did this

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After leaving the first firm I worked for, I emailed the managing partners about how I felt about being treated poorly there, and explained that I hope they treat other young attorney with more respect than they showed me. I now have a way better job and honestly I look down on those partners and that firm. I say if you have something to say, say it respectfully to them. Holding your tongue because you may want to work there in the future may be worth it, but sending that email to the partners made me feel so good!! But I knew I was never going back and wouldn't use anyone from that firm as a reference, and I still landed a better job! If not saying anything will make you feel worse, say something!

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I would say be honest, but within reason. Keep the info you provide limited to professional scenarios and provide specific examples that can be easily researched after you leave. I used to work on HR. We would follow up on the exit interviews and take action where we were able to prove that what the former employee said was true. Too often former employees left too vague of a response and we weren't able to take action, which was frustrating.

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I was incredibly honest. Will it change the firm? Probably not. Was it super cathartic? Absolutely.

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I say look out for yourself. I personally do not go into any real detail in exit interviews for a voluntary resignation. I leave the reasons for leaving objective - like comp increase or leaving for a different practice area. You may need the connections you built there in the future and other than feeling a sense of relief for a bit, not much to gain from giving negative feedback in an exit interview.

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I went with honest but a little vague. I said things like the structure of the team and partner to associate ratio was unworkable without blaming the partner directly. And for what it’s worth, they added a partner to the team after I left, so sometimes what you sat does make a difference 🤷🏻‍♀️

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I say tell them. You're a lawyer! You stand up for people all day, so stand up for yourself and others that might be in your same position!

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I was very honest but did it without pointing fingers! Kept things vague but pointed out systemic issues that the partners in my group should collectively know. If they burn bridges because of the limited things I said, then f them. Big law and law firms won’t change if we stay quiet

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I do not share anything substantive in exit interviews. You guys are swell - it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up - hope our paths cross again. Smile. That’s it.

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There wasn’t an interview! They had me fill out a form. I skipped the section that asked what my immediate supervisor could do to improve. They didn’t take the time to speak with me and they wouldn’t have taken my advice anyway.

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