in Careers Advice, Changing Jobs, Legal Profession

Making a Move – is it really time?

Making a Move – how to know when it is time

The autumn is traditionally a time when a number of staff at law firms start to look around for work. Our candidate registrations tend to pick up at this time of year as solicitors return from their summer holidays having had time to think about their future and alternative options.

Here is our guide to knowing if you should make a move.

“I am working too many hours”
You really want to cut down on your hours but don’t know how to ask or expect your firm to decline any request for less. Your firm expect you to be on site early and leave late. In these circumstances it may be worth having a cursory check of the market to see whether there are alternative options out there for you and then really pushing your current employer for less hours only when you know there are alternative options.

“I hate my boss”
Nothing much to say here – this is a definite reason for making a move as swiftly as possible!

“I don’t like the field of law and it should be better elsewhere.”
This is a really bad reason for making a move. You end up a serial job changer, damage future prospects generally and never feel any happier at any law firm you end up at. If you don’t like the field of law then you have to do something about this, not move firms to see if it is any better.

“The commute is killing me”
A genuine reason for moving law firms, but stop and think carefully before you do so. If you really like the firm you are with, what about moving closer to them rather than trying to find a new job closer to home? A good number of people make this kind of decision and then really regret it. Nice law firms do not grow on trees. If you are happy in a post then think very, very carefully before moving.

“I want more money”
Another genuine reason for moving, but how much more money do you want and can you feasibly get it by making a move? A number of candidates make moves thinking they are going to get more money, but after making the decision they realise that the more money bit is actually not a lot (after all every £1k pay rise is actually only worth about £400 at a certain level) or the extra commute has eaten up most of the additional amount.

“I want more responsibility”
This is a problem that comes up again and again. As employees solicitors sometimes feel a general sense of powerlessness over anything in their work environment and a lack of control. Decisions are made and implemented whether or not the solicitor agrees with them or not. One of the reasons often given for taking up locum work is the desire to have more control over the work environment. However if you don’t make it clear at your current workplace that you want more responsibility it is unlikely any will come your way.

“I want clear career progression”
See above. Same problem. If you don’t indicate your preferences it is unlikely anything will ever happen. You don’t have to move jobs to get career progression but you do need to vocally express your ambition to your existing employer.

“The working environment is awful”
Open offices, dusty desks, horrible smells in the kitchen, dirty floors have all been given as reasons for moving over the years. These can be resolved with your existing employer in some cases by expressing your thoughts, but if nothing is done then definitely worth looking around. Not all law firms have the same issues!

Think carefully before making a move. Are you doing it for the right reasons? Are there alternative options for you?

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. To contact him please email

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at