Feeling like I made a mistake in switching firms. What to do?

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Feeling like I made a mistake in switching firms. What to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:07 pm

Exactly as the title describes. First attorney job was starting work for a solo corporate firm in spring 2017 with one owner and two associates, myself and another. Made comparatively very little - $40,000 base, no benefits. Required billable hours were very low, around 1,200 per year. As a result, the job was low(er) stress, and I absolutely loved the corporate work I was doing.

Fast forward to this winter. My friend from law school tells me he loves the firm he is working with, and encourages me to apply. The firm does primarily insurance defense litigation, with some other practice areas, including corporate. But ID is their bread and butter. The job posting claimed that the position would be a mix of another practice area I was interested in and ID. They also pay nearly $20K more per year, full benefit package, etc. The firm has an excellent reputation in the area, and they've rapidly expanded in the past 5 years.

I am nearly two months in, and I absolutely detest the work I'm doing at the new firm, and the boss for whom I'm doing it. I feel like I made a colossal mistake in switching. My previous boss and I got along reasonably well, so this is definitely an adjustment. My current boss is a screamer, and no seems to be no clear way to discern what he wants. Even when he gives me back revisions and I do them to a T, he finds new, unrelated issues and blows up at me for not addressing them previously.

Every day I go to work with extreme anxiety and dread, and I'm not sure how long I'll last. What are my options at this point? I know that switching now would look awful, so I am pretty sure I'll have to stick it out for at least a year, unless an opening in corporate comes available, or another firm has a corporate opening.

Any thoughts on this? How long should I stick this out?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Feeling like I made a mistake in switching firms. What to do?

Postby deadpanic » Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:41 pm

Are you and old boss on good terms? I would attempt to reach out and see if he will take you back at a negotiated rate if possible.

Insurance defense can be toxic. If you billed only 1,200, they likely only collected way, way less than that since insurance companies are notoriously cheap and audit the hell out of the billable hours. So, the partners are understandably or irrationally filled with high anxiety about their bottom line. The competition is rampant, too, so you have to take the 8k insurance defense fender bender case to keep their business to get the "big" cases. A lot of the times, there is no upward trajectory at firms like this. They just want you to burn and churn. There are a lot of ID firms billing themselves as prestigious and high-profile, but are really no different than a slip and fall personal injury mill.

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Re: Feeling like I made a mistake in switching firms. What to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:41 am

OP here. Thanks for your response.

My boss and I are on decent terms. I received a favorable evaluation right before I left. However, I believe he already hired another associate to fill my spot. I should mention there really is no room to advance with my old firm. Thus, I'd probably leave there again in six months to a year for a different firm, regardless. Also, I should clarify that 1,200 was the yearly billing requirement at my old firm. The new firm's yearly billing requirement is 1,800.

As for upward trajectory, there are several non-equity partners, but very few equity partners. The firm is asking to expand rapidly in the next few years, which gives me some hope that a position in another department will open up. I just don't know how long I can last with my current boss.

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Re: Feeling like I made a mistake in switching firms. What to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:54 am

I had a somewhat similar experience as you, OP. I spent a year at a small firm with one owner and a small handful of associates. The firm was low stress and had a low hour requirement and consequently low pay with no room for advancement. After a year, I took a job at a larger firm. It wasn’t an insurance defense job (it was mid/biglaw), but I quickly realized I didn’t like the environment or my direct boss. I started applying to new positions 4.5 months into my time at the new firm, which was against all advice I received from these forums and friends alike. Fast forward 4 months (so 8 months after being at the new firm) I landed a dream job (mid six figures, in-house, outstanding benefits).

Don’t look backwards. You know already know that first small firm job is a dead end. My advice to you is to start looking for new opportunities. Sure, you might get auto-rejected because you’ve only been at your current firm for a few months, but if you land an interview, obviously someone is willing to look past that. You’ll have to explain it during an interview, but that’s something you can work on later.

Don’t get discouraged! If I did it, you can too.

FWIW, I went to a school ranked around 20-25 and had median grades... because everyone here cares about that stuff.


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Re: Feeling like I made a mistake in switching firms. What to do?

Postby hugerez » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:39 pm

Went through the same thing here except it took me over a year to get a firm to look at my resume. There is absolutely no amount of money (less than 300K+) worth working for a shitty boss doing shitty work. But dont go back to the old vomit. Keep looking. Dont stop. Just cruise and take the money until you land a new gig.

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