What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

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What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:37 am

Edit: I have 6 months at my current job on my resume. I have been applying to job postings and got an interview with a market paying regional firm.

I am leaving to protect my health and emotions. My boss is a yeller and a mean one, whom nobody in the firm wants to work with, including other partners and associates. My boss never has a dull moment. Every interaction is angry, rude, and disrespectful. To give some objectivity, the longest working associate and secretaries are 8 months in. I heard everyone who comes to work for this boss quits in 6 months. Yesterday capped it all, when my boss made a rude reactionary comment at a meeting with the entire practice group in response to me trying to help him/her navigate a simple computer issue. It was done out of habit not realizing the setting.

Of course I cant say this at an interview. But im leaving largely because of my boss and the increasing anxiety and depression related not to work itself but at the thought of having to interact with this person. How would you spin this?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby rpupkin » Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:I will have 6 months at my current job on my resume. Need to leave cuz my boss is insane. Yells, is c
always direspectful and rude, makes borderline racist comments, and just constantly belittling and demanding longer workhours above my target. I am well liked in the office and other partners in different practice groups have work for me. However my boss wont let me work with any other partners. So i am stuck.

If i quit now without a job, what can I say as the reason for my early departure?

If you're applying for jobs in the same region in the same general practice area, everyone will assume one of two things: (1) you were asked to leave, or (2) you hated working at the firm. There's no effective way to address this in a cover letter, so I would just leave it alone.

Do you have friends at other law firms who can vouch for you? If so, reach out to them and ask them to pass your resume onto recruiting.

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby mjb447 » Mon Jan 30, 2017 1:02 am

I don't know about addressing it generally, but a cover letter should almost never discuss your weaknesses as a candidate (even by trying to head them off with an explanation). Tend to agree with pupkin, though: at six months or less the assumption is going to be that either you or the firm found the relationship to be toxic, and there's probably not much you can do to rebut that.

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:53 am

op here. judging by your responses, it seems like even saying "I wanted to do X law and as a junior, did not want to get pigeonholed in doing Y law" is probably not going to work because then the auto-response would be, "why did this kid quit before finding another job first?" im screwed either way.

The only thing I could think of is, "I decided to look for a job full-time in the practice area of my passion and that required me to take the bold step of resigning and dedicating myself full time to search for the position."

Is this equally implausible?

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Npret » Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:29 am

How long can you live without a job?

I wouldn't address it in cover letter just send resume they will figure it out. If they interview you then come up it's a decent story about changing practice groups.

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:18 am

I was in your exact same situation, except I was clerking for a federal judge. A truly crazy, insane boss that was affecting my health and how I interacted with the people closest to me. I couldn't put up with it anymore and had to leave for my own health. I gave very little thought to how I would find employment or explain my situation, but I'm fortunate enough that, after less than a handful of months, I currently have a few offers from firms that I really want to work for.

In my job hunt, I did not mention in my cover letter that I left after 6 months. For me, I was sticking to the same practice area, but I was leaving the region. The kinds of firms I'm applying to wouldn't care too much leaving a clerkship early because they're not doing litigation work. That's as much as I can say about my personal situation.

The firms will get an idea as to what happened just by looking at your resume. Sometimes I got asked about why I only stayed for 6 months during interviews, but a lot of times I did not. I always made sure to specify that I resigned, not that I got fired. You need to be prepared to explain yourself while being respectful of your former (and truly insane) boss, but only once you get to the interview stage. At least that's how I handled it and how it worked out.

That said, I hope that you're happier once you quit and that you don't look back. If you take that step, there is a reason you decided to leave. Just remember that. I remember that after I quit, there were days where I had mini-panic attacks and thought to myself "wow, I quit and I'm unemployed. When am I going to find a job?" But I can honestly say I have never, ever, ever regretted the act of leaving that cesspool. I truly hope everything works out for you!!

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I was in your exact same situation, except I was clerking for a federal judge. A truly crazy, insane boss that was affecting my health and how I interacted with the people closest to me. I couldn't put up with it anymore and had to leave for my own health. I gave very little thought to how I would find employment or explain my situation, but I'm fortunate enough that, after less than a handful of months, I currently have a few offers from firms that I really want to work for.

In my job hunt, I did not mention in my cover letter that I left after 6 months. For me, I was sticking to the same practice area, but I was leaving the region. The kinds of firms I'm applying to wouldn't care too much leaving a clerkship early because they're not doing litigation work. That's as much as I can say about my personal situation.

The firms will get an idea as to what happened just by looking at your resume. Sometimes I got asked about why I only stayed for 6 months during interviews, but a lot of times I did not. I always made sure to specify that I resigned, not that I got fired. You need to be prepared to explain yourself while being respectful of your former (and truly insane) boss, but only once you get to the interview stage. At least that's how I handled it and how it worked out.

That said, I hope that you're happier once you quit and that you don't look back. If you take that step, there is a reason you decided to leave. Just remember that. I remember that after I quit, there were days where I had mini-panic attacks and thought to myself "wow, I quit and I'm unemployed. When am I going to find a job?" But I can honestly say I have never, ever, ever regretted the act of leaving that cesspool. I truly hope everything works out for you!!


How long did it take u to find the next job and what was ur answer to leaving clerkship early? Did u mention the judge at all?

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby rpupkin » Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:op here. judging by your responses, it seems like even saying "I wanted to do X law and as a junior, did not want to get pigeonholed in doing Y law" is probably not going to work because then the auto-response would be, "why did this kid quit before finding another job first?" im screwed either way.

Do NOT quit before securing another job. I know you're miserable, but, if your goal is to continue in big law somewhere else, it's pretty important that you don't quit.

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:31 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:op here. judging by your responses, it seems like even saying "I wanted to do X law and as a junior, did not want to get pigeonholed in doing Y law" is probably not going to work because then the auto-response would be, "why did this kid quit before finding another job first?" im screwed either way.

Do NOT quit before securing another job. I know you're miserable, but, if your goal is to continue in big law somewhere else, it's pretty important that you don't quit.


Sigh... I believe you are right. I was hoping for something different to be said by TLS. I should do the bare minimum and stay afloat until the next offer.

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Prana-9 » Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:op here. judging by your responses, it seems like even saying "I wanted to do X law and as a junior, did not want to get pigeonholed in doing Y law" is probably not going to work because then the auto-response would be, "why did this kid quit before finding another job first?" im screwed either way.

Do NOT quit before securing another job. I know you're miserable, but, if your goal is to continue in big law somewhere else, it's pretty important that you don't quit.


Sigh... I believe you are right. I was hoping for something different to be said by TLS. I should do the bare minimum and stay afloat until the next offer.


Not necessarily. It really depends where you are mentally right now. If, for instance, you have insomnia, having panic attacks, and such, the job really is not worth it right now. You need to get out and get healthy. As you get healthier, you will have more energy and make wiser and better decisions.

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:48 pm

Prana-9 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:op here. judging by your responses, it seems like even saying "I wanted to do X law and as a junior, did not want to get pigeonholed in doing Y law" is probably not going to work because then the auto-response would be, "why did this kid quit before finding another job first?" im screwed either way.

Do NOT quit before securing another job. I know you're miserable, but, if your goal is to continue in big law somewhere else, it's pretty important that you don't quit.


Sigh... I believe you are right. I was hoping for something different to be said by TLS. I should do the bare minimum and stay afloat until the next offer.


Not necessarily. It really depends where you are mentally right now. If, for instance, you have insomnia, having panic attacks, and such, the job really is not worth it right now. You need to get out and get healthy. As you get healthier, you will have more energy and make wiser and better decisions.

Many of us here are all for taking care of one's mental health, but what makes this a complicated calculus is that quitting without a new job puts OP in another situation that also jeopardizes his or her mental health - being unemployed and not knowing how long it will take to find a new job. Will it take a month? Will it take six months? Do the chances of finding something decrease as the time gets longer? Talk about insomnia and panic attacks. Quitting with nothing lined up is not the road to "get healthy", other than perhaps in very extreme situations (realistic possibility of suicide, escalating hard drug use, etc.). Speaking as someone who does experience panic attacks (which I don't believe the OP mentioned), they're not a good enough reason to quit a job before finding a new one.

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 31, 2017 2:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I will have 6 months at my current job on my resume. Need to leave cuz my boss is insane. Yells, is c
always direspectful and rude, makes borderline racist comments, and just constantly belittling and demanding longer workhours above my target. I am well liked in the office and other partners in different practice groups have work for me. However my boss wont let me work with any other partners. So i am stuck.

If i quit now without a job, what can I say as the reason for my early departure?


first, don't quit. i know it sucks, but it'll suck worse being unemployed. fwiw, i've had my share of crazy bosses (arrogant, demeaning, violent), and one of my friends/former co-workers had the worst boss imaginable (she asked we don't share the details, but it was bad enough that even our firm tried to help get her out) but she's not willing to hurt her career to get away. hang in there. bad bosses suck, but they're still better than hunting for a job in this economy.

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
How long did it take u to find the next job and what was ur answer to leaving clerkship early? Did u mention the judge at all?


It took me a month and a half before I got my job offers. I basically said that while I enjoyed the work I was doing, I decided to leave the job after giving the decision a lot of consideration. When pressed about it, I would say that I left because of a personality conflict with the judge and would leave it at that. People got the idea after that. It worked for me, but I'm well aware that my answers would not satisfy everybody.

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:40 pm

Op here. So a market paying big regional firm wants to interview. This firm pays double what I make and practices in an area im interested in. I am almost certain they will ask why I am leaving. Is the standard "im not getting any depo/hearing/client development experience" going to fly?

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Op here. So a market paying big regional firm wants to interview. This firm pays double what I make and practices in an area im interested in. I am almost certain they will ask why I am leaving. Is the standard "im not getting any depo/hearing/client development experience" going to fly?

The bolded provides a nice, neutral justification for leaving your current firm.

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Npret » Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Op here. So a market paying big regional firm wants to interview. This firm pays double what I make and practices in an area im interested in. I am almost certain they will ask why I am leaving. Is the standard "im not getting any depo/hearing/client development experience" going to fly?

1. Dont say anything negative about your experience at all. Just say something about more sophisticated practice or more work in the area you prefer or something. If it's a local partner they probably have hired from his office before.

2. People understand money as a reason. You don't have to say it.

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:09 pm

Npret wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Op here. So a market paying big regional firm wants to interview. This firm pays double what I make and practices in an area im interested in. I am almost certain they will ask why I am leaving. Is the standard "im not getting any depo/hearing/client development experience" going to fly?

1. Dont say anything negative about your experience at all. Just say something about more sophisticated practice or more work in the area you prefer or something. If it's a local partner they probably have hired from his office before.

2. People understand money as a reason. You don't have to say it.


I agree stating more money as a reason under any context just makes applicants seem weird.

Would they really believe me when I say "my firm is great i just want to do X law and build a career I have a genuine interest in"? Or is this more of a screener q to make sure im not autistic?

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby whysooseriousbiglaw » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:12 pm

What's your savings/debt situation?

I know a bunch of people who quit with no job out of biglaw (I can think of at least 10 that I know personally) - but most wanted to leave large firm life completely after spending at least 3 years at a firm. Some are now consultants, non profit attorneys or government attorneys or even computer programmers.
Last edited by whysooseriousbiglaw on Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What to say in cover letter for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby whysooseriousbiglaw » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:14 pm

Prana-9 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:op here. judging by your responses, it seems like even saying "I wanted to do X law and as a junior, did not want to get pigeonholed in doing Y law" is probably not going to work because then the auto-response would be, "why did this kid quit before finding another job first?" im screwed either way.

Do NOT quit before securing another job. I know you're miserable, but, if your goal is to continue in big law somewhere else, it's pretty important that you don't quit.


Sigh... I believe you are right. I was hoping for something different to be said by TLS. I should do the bare minimum and stay afloat until the next offer.


Not necessarily. It really depends where you are mentally right now. If, for instance, you have insomnia, having panic attacks, and such, the job really is not worth it right now. You need to get out and get healthy. As you get healthier, you will have more energy and make wiser and better decisions.


I tend to agree with this, but it depends on what OP's financial situation looks like and also what OP wants to do in the long term. If it's not another big law firm, it isn't as bad as people make it out to be to quit a job without a job.

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Npret » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Npret wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Op here. So a market paying big regional firm wants to interview. This firm pays double what I make and practices in an area im interested in. I am almost certain they will ask why I am leaving. Is the standard "im not getting any depo/hearing/client development experience" going to fly?

1. Dont say anything negative about your experience at all. Just say something about more sophisticated practice or more work in the area you prefer or something. If it's a local partner they probably have hired from his office before.

2. People understand money as a reason. You don't have to say it.


I agree stating more money as a reason under any context just makes applicants seem weird.

Would they really believe me when I say "my firm is great i just want to do X law and build a career I have a genuine interest in"? Or is this more of a screener q to make sure im not autistic?

You don't have to say your firm is great. They probably assume that money is driving your decision. Just explain what you are looking for in your new firm or how it's a great fit for your career goals or something you can come up with based on the firm and practice area.

They want to know how you will fit in with them. They aren't going to grill you about why you want to leave your current job. If they want to interview you they must see something they like. They already know you've been at that firm a short time so it isn't a shock to them.

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:22 pm

Npret wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Op here. So a market paying big regional firm wants to interview. This firm pays double what I make and practices in an area im interested in. I am almost certain they will ask why I am leaving. Is the standard "im not getting any depo/hearing/client development experience" going to fly?

1. Dont say anything negative about your experience at all. Just say something about more sophisticated practice or more work in the area you prefer or something. If it's a local partner they probably have hired from his office before.

2. People understand money as a reason. You don't have to say it.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting that the OP should say anything about money. But the fact that the interviewing firm pays twice as much--which I'm sure the firm knows--really takes the pressure off of the "why are you looking to leave your current firm?" question. In fact, I doubt anyone will ask the OP that question. The OP should have a coherent answer for why he wants to work at the new firm, but I don't think OP needs to compare the new firm to his old firm.

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:42 am

OP here. Im not tied to biglaw and i have no debt (praise the lord). I just wanna do biglaw to have more options later because it's easier to go from biglaw to mid/small/gov than the other way around.

i agree about the whole fitness with the firm situation. is this interview going to be more about the personality-mesh than my abilities/resume?

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Npret » Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Im not tied to biglaw and i have no debt (praise the lord). I just wanna do biglaw to have more options later because it's easier to go from biglaw to mid/small/gov than the other way around.

i agree about the whole fitness with the firm situation. is this interview going to be more about the personality-mesh than my abilities/resume?


Lateral interviews at usually real interviews, not screeners. But I don't know this situation.

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:45 am

Npret wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Im not tied to biglaw and i have no debt (praise the lord). I just wanna do biglaw to have more options later because it's easier to go from biglaw to mid/small/gov than the other way around.

i agree about the whole fitness with the firm situation. is this interview going to be more about the personality-mesh than my abilities/resume?


Lateral interviews at usually real interviews, not screeners. But I don't know this situation.


i will be interviewing with 4 partners. not sure if all in one sitting or one at a time.

Can I assume that they think I am qualified and are simply looking for the "fit" or do I have to prove I have experience/exposure to their practice area? I wrote in the cover letter than I have experience in X but it was a 2L summer gig that continued to my 3L. I have been practicing in a similar but different field since then. Will they ding me for not having post-grad x experience?

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Re: What to say during a biglaw interview for leaving job after 6 months?

Postby Npret » Thu Feb 02, 2017 9:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Npret wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Im not tied to biglaw and i have no debt (praise the lord). I just wanna do biglaw to have more options later because it's easier to go from biglaw to mid/small/gov than the other way around.

i agree about the whole fitness with the firm situation. is this interview going to be more about the personality-mesh than my abilities/resume?


Lateral interviews at usually real interviews, not screeners. But I don't know this situation.


i will be interviewing with 4 partners. not sure if all in one sitting or one at a time.

Can I assume that they think I am qualified and are simply looking for the "fit" or do I have to prove I have experience/exposure to their practice area? I wrote in the cover letter than I have experience in X but it was a 2L summer gig that continued to my 3L. I have been practicing in a similar but different field since then. Will they ding me for not having post-grad x experience?


I don't know. I think you should be prepared for both kinds of questions. Try to focus on preparing for the interview and not worry about each thing you might be dinged on.
They saw your resume so they are interested. I don't think they will care so much about post grad experience as long as you can sell what you did as a basic familiarity with the practice. If I had to guess it would be mostly for fit. But I don't know the specific situation.

Prepare like you did for OCI and know the firm, the partners you are interviewing with, etc.

Maybe you should join the practicing attorney section of the forum and ask away there. You may get more responses.



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