Quitting biglaw & notice

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Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:02 am

Hi All,

I'm a junior associate at a V100 biglaw firm and I'm leaving to pursue a clerkship in 2018. I haven't told the firm that I'm leaving yet as (1) I'm changing practice areas and don't think they'd be very happy about it (i.e. they migh fire me/phase me out); and (2) I'm fairly certain they will withhold my bonus in December if I tell them before it's paid out (my clerkship starts very soon after the bonus is to be paid so I can only give about a week's notice max).

As far as I'm aware, I'm an at-will employee and don't think I'm subject to any required "notice period."

Is there any reason I should tell the firm before I get my bonus? I suspect they will be unhappy, but I really don't want to risk not getting paid my bonus. Is there any way they could require me to repay the bonus? Give me a bad reference? etc.

Grateful for any thoughts/comments.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:14 am

You should decide ASAP whether you want to come back to this firm after your clerkship. If the answer is yes, I would let them know now. If the answer is no, I would give two weeks notice as soon as your bonus is paid out and just not worry about it.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:39 am

Thanks, I can't actually give a full two weeks notice - I can only give about a week max and realistically probably less than that given the timing.

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rpupkin

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby rpupkin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:01 am

Does your judge know of your "tell my firm the week before I leave" plans?

Yes, you are an at-will employee and can leave whenever and however you'd like, but your plan is weird and unprofessional. If you'd like to return to the practice of law after your clerkship, I'd reconsider your approach.

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patrickd139

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby patrickd139 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:22 am

I think two week's notice requirement as applied in biglaw is kind of a myth. You shouldn't feel obligated to do anything more than is necessary to ensure your client matters are properly transitioned in a way that doesn't adversely affect your clients. On that note, one week as a planned notice period seems very short, but I could imagine a scenario where that would be possible.

Some things I would consider, in no particular order:
-Your market size. You can probably be okay if you do that in New York. Slightly riskier in a place like Charlotte or Austin.
-Whether you want to come back to your current firm.
-Your workload. Are you staffed on long term projects or when you get work is it usually more the "burn and turn" type? If the latter, it might be possible to leave with a shorter notice period.
-Do you have any client contact for matters that will take more than several hours to transition?
-How many junior associates are in your office in the practice group you're leaving?
-How badly do you need the bonus? Enough to almost certainly and emphatically burn the bridge at your current firm?
-What happens when your judge inevitably finds out.

I'd throw those into a blender and see what shakes out. I don't envy your choice. But I'd lean towards giving more than a week's notice if at all possible. Maybe not a month, but certainly more than a few days.

blahblewblah

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby blahblewblah » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:25 am

He obviously doesn't seem tied to his firm (nor they to him). If it came down to bonus vs notice I would take the bonus every time personally.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby QContinuum » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:22 am

blahblewblah wrote:He obviously doesn't seem tied to his firm (nor they to him). If it came down to bonus vs notice I would take the bonus every time personally.


IMO, not good to tick people off, and giving 1 week's notice (and thus potentially leaving other associates or partners holding the bag) would run a serious risk of brassing folks off. Excepting dire financial straits, I'd seriously lean toward giving the usual 2 weeks, bonus or no bonus. Law's a small world (even in NYC).

run26.2

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby run26.2 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:33 am

What makes you so sure the firm won't pay the bonus? Even if you felt certain they would not, I would give more than a week. It is both the decent and wise thing to do.

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Desert Fox

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby Desert Fox » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:46 am

Any way you can push back the start of the clerkship a week or so?

Bigger question, why would your firm be so sure you won't come back. Just lie about coming back and they'll bonus you.

Or give notice now. And ask point blank about the bonus. If they tell you to fuck off you can coast which is worth more than any bonus. Go on a three week vacation, etc.
Last edited by Desert Fox on Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby QContinuum » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:50 am

Desert Fox wrote:Bigger question, why would your firm be so sure you won't come back.


This. It's increasingly common for folks to work at a firm first before clerking. And (in general) firms don't view clerking negatively - many are very happy for associates to clerk and come back after. It's not like you're proposing to go off and try working for a different firm for a year.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:23 am

QContinuum wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Bigger question, why would your firm be so sure you won't come back.


This. It's increasingly common for folks to work at a firm first before clerking. And (in general) firms don't view clerking negatively - many are very happy for associates to clerk and come back after. It's not like you're proposing to go off and try working for a different firm for a year.

This wasn't expressly stated but it sounds like this person might be doing a corp--clerkship--lit switch.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:48 am

Hi All,

Thanks for the helpful responses. To answer a few of the questions:

- I'm not sure the firm will 100% withhold my bonus, but they have been less than forthcoming about bonuses in the past and have discussed adjusting bonus compensation so I don't have a lot of confidence

- I am changing practice areas

- I don't want to tell them immediately because I'm not sure what their reaction will be and I can't afford to have multiple months of no pay and a gap on my resume

- Obviously, I would prefer to give them proper notice and not piss them off, it's just that the timing of the clerkship and bonus makes this difficult

- I like the idea of giving notice early(ish) and indicating my desire to come back. This is not wrong or even a lie, but I'm not sure the firm would have the need me a year in the future

- I am on mostly long-term matters and the firm has enough juniors to handle my departure

Grateful for any further thoughts/comments.

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Desert Fox

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby Desert Fox » Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:49 am

Just tell them now and profess your desire to return. That is most clean.
Last edited by Desert Fox on Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby radio1nowhere » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:15 pm

One week's notice seems like you'd burn a lot of bridges, especially because it's not like you can play it off like you randomly got some new job opportunity out of the blue -- the firm is going to know you got the clerkship in advance and purposely kept it under wraps. I would err on the side of preserving your reputation even if you end up getting a lower bonus than you otherwise would. You'll have plenty of opportunity to make good money coming off your clerkship (including a clerkship bonus), so coming off like an asshole to everyone at your old firm just to get the chance at a one-time larger bonus seems risky. You never know when and how often you'll end up running into / interacting with / potentially working for your former coworkers for the rest of your career.

That's how I would look at it, anyways. I suppose it could be a risk you're willing to take if the money is that important to you right now.

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rpupkin

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby rpupkin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:23 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Just tell them now and profess your desire to return. That is most clean.

This. Also OP: this is almost surely what your judge would want you to do.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:31 pm

You gotta do what is right for you, but.... 1 week seems pretty short. It really depends on what work you are doing. Are you in the middle of long term projects? or are you wrapping up a few big projects?

I am leaving biglaw soon and I gave a month notice. Another associate in my group left 1 month ago and he gave a month notice as well. I think in biglaw if you are leaving voluntarily, 3-4 weeks is standard practice.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby jd20132013 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:37 pm

Inform them a month before you leave and express desire to return

$$$$$$

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby $$$$$$ » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:41 pm

Month notice is insane - two weeks is plenty

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glitched

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby glitched » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:50 pm

Clerkships don't require professional references? You'd think that something like that would.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:52 pm

glitched wrote:Clerkships don't require professional references? You'd think that something like that would.

You submit letters of reference with your application. A judge might call someone they know when deciding whether to give you an offer, but will often go off the already submitted letters.

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rpupkin

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby rpupkin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:54 pm

$$$$$$ wrote:Month notice is insane - two weeks is plenty

Two weeks is not plenty in this situation. When someone accepts a clerkship offer while working at a firm, it's typical to let the firm know right away, even if the clerkship is a year or two out. When people accept offers to clerk and then wait until two or three months before leaving to tell their firm (usually this doesn't work because the firm finds out through other channels anyway), folks raise eyebrows. But two weeks? That's way outside the bounds of what is considered normal in the profession. I've never heard of someone accepting a clerkship offer a year out and then not telling their firm until a week or two before leaving.
Last edited by rpupkin on Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.

tyroneslothrop1

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:09 pm

Tell now. Ordinarily, two weeks notice is appropriate where you receive a job offer then, within days or weeks, inform your current employer your last day will be two weeks from today. Accepting a job that is scheduled to begin a year from now and not saying anything until two weeks (or even less!) before you quit is a very different situation. Now, to the extent you don't care about everyone thinking you're an absolute nut/hating you, you could get your bonus and then quit on the spot, but you would be unleashing "fire and fury" on the bridges and your judge, to the extent he/she found out, would be displeased.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby SmokeytheBear » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:14 pm

rpupkin wrote:
$$$$$$ wrote:Month notice is insane - two weeks is plenty

Two weeks is not plenty in this situation. When someone accepts a clerkship offer while working at a firm, it's typical to let the firm know right away, even if the clerkship is a year or two out. When people accept offers to clerk and then wait until two or three months before leaving to tell their firm (usually this doesn't work because the firm finds out through other channels anyway), folks raise eyebrows. But two weeks? That's way outside the bounds of what is considered normal in the profession. I've never heard of someone accepting a clerkship offer a year out and then not telling their firm until a week or two before leaving.


Yes, this is correct.

You're going to raise eyebrows and ruffle some feathers if you give one week notice. You're going to further have people be upset when you tell them you're going to a clerkship because of the above.

I'm all for looking out for #1, but you need to understand that your plan isn't the most prudent professional decision all in the hope to get $10-$15k.

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Pokemon

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby Pokemon » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:53 pm

In the grand scheme of things 10k after tax or whatever the amount is is not enough $$$ to risk partners at your current firm thinking that you are a total piece of shit. A week notice is too short, particularly for something you know so far in advance like a clerkship.

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Re: Quitting biglaw & notice

Postby lolwat » Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:02 pm

SmokeytheBear wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
$$$$$$ wrote:Month notice is insane - two weeks is plenty

Two weeks is not plenty in this situation. When someone accepts a clerkship offer while working at a firm, it's typical to let the firm know right away, even if the clerkship is a year or two out. When people accept offers to clerk and then wait until two or three months before leaving to tell their firm (usually this doesn't work because the firm finds out through other channels anyway), folks raise eyebrows. But two weeks? That's way outside the bounds of what is considered normal in the profession. I've never heard of someone accepting a clerkship offer a year out and then not telling their firm until a week or two before leaving.


Yes, this is correct.

You're going to raise eyebrows and ruffle some feathers if you give one week notice. You're going to further have people be upset when you tell them you're going to a clerkship because of the above.

I'm all for looking out for #1, but you need to understand that your plan isn't the most prudent professional decision all in the hope to get $10-$15k.


I'll also agree with this. OP isn't leaving for a job that he suddenly got a start date that's in a week or two. He got a clerkship. In a non-clerkship situation you don't need to give so much notice that the firm pushes you out quickly and you suddenly have 6 months of no income before your next job. But giving the partners enough time to adjust their cases and to wrap up your end of any work is pretty common courtesy and, I'm sure, will be appreciated -- or at the very least not get you blacklisted for jumping ship in a week and leaving everyone else to pull all-nighters making up for your absence.



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