Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

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Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 1:46 pm

Big law associate looking to make a move from one firm to a competitor firm in the same market. I am told that I need to provide partner reference from my current employer to finalize my offer... Does anyone know how to navigate this? This basically gives my firm my notice before an offer is finalized and I'm paranoid about my boss sabotaging my exit, either out of spite or to keep me at the firm.

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Re: Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 2:28 pm

This happened to me when I lateraled. I asked my recruiter to reach out to the form and ask if a senior associate who supervised me could provide the reference and they agreed.

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Re: Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:14 pm

What is the point of such an exercise? I mean it seems like such a nonsensical move to ask a reference because no one would volunteer a bad reference and it only makes the candidate's situation awkward like OP mentioned.

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Re: Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:14 pm
What is the point of such an exercise? I mean it seems like such a nonsensical move to ask a reference because no one would volunteer a bad reference and it only makes the candidate's situation awkward like OP mentioned.
I’m the anon above. I think it’s to show that you are leaving on good terms and the people who you are currently working with like you enough to give you the reference. If no one you worked with can vouch for you and the only reference you get is from HR, that may raise red flags. Some firms do have HR only policies, though, so OP should probably check that.

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Re: Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:41 pm

I had this request given to me in connection with a potential lateral opportunity and it actually caused the whole thing to fall through. I was simply not comfortable providing a partner reference at my current firm without a solid offer in hand, and of course the offer could not be solid because they still wanted a reference. There are some potential ways to break this logjam - i.e., as noted above, a potential senior associate, or perhaps an associate/partner who left your current firm and went to a new firm. But for whatever reason in my particular case they insisted it be someone who was a partner still at the firm. As I later learned, I was one of a few finalists for the position and they were using this as a tiebreaker. It could have been a disaster if I had asked a partner to give me a reference and I still was not selected for the position.

Long story short, it's up to you OP, maybe try to see if you can provide a reference from someone who you worked with but who is not a partner at your firm currently. Otherwise, it's a big gamble.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:22 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:14 pm
What is the point of such an exercise? I mean it seems like such a nonsensical move to ask a reference because no one would volunteer a bad reference and it only makes the candidate's situation awkward like OP mentioned.
I’m the anon above. I think it’s to show that you are leaving on good terms and the people who you are currently working with like you enough to give you the reference. If no one you worked with can vouch for you and the only reference you get is from HR, that may raise red flags. Some firms do have HR only policies, though, so OP should probably check that.
OP here

Isn’t this also assuming the good will of the employer? I can imagine a scenario where the partner is pissed enough about the perceived betrayal that they try to sabotage (crazy, but not impossible...)

Anonymous User
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Re: Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:42 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:22 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:14 pm
What is the point of such an exercise? I mean it seems like such a nonsensical move to ask a reference because no one would volunteer a bad reference and it only makes the candidate's situation awkward like OP mentioned.
I’m the anon above. I think it’s to show that you are leaving on good terms and the people who you are currently working with like you enough to give you the reference. If no one you worked with can vouch for you and the only reference you get is from HR, that may raise red flags. Some firms do have HR only policies, though, so OP should probably check that.
OP here

Isn’t this also assuming the good will of the employer? I can imagine a scenario where the partner is pissed enough about the perceived betrayal that they try to sabotage (crazy, but not impossible...)
Anon from above who refused to give a partner reference. Yes, there are a couple of things you would want to be worried about, even if you are a good associate. I wouldn't say most partners would do this, but a distinct minority would. (1) A spiteful partner who is upset you're leaving and decides to harm you (and who will then harm your future at your current firm); (2) a partner who wants to keep you and thus will sabotage you; and (3) a partner with unrealistically high expectations who will give you an unnecessarily negative reference that downplays your abilities. And, as noted above, you have to worry that the offer is not really that solid, and that even if you get a good reference they won't go with you and then you're stuck at your current firm with everyone knowing you want to leave.

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Re: Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:33 pm

This happened to me too and it was really frustrating. There was zero acknowledgement of the fact that this is an extremely unusual request in any business context. I felt super uncomfortable pushing back but eventually just told them that although I wasn't concerned that partners at my current firm were going to say something bad about me, I wasn't comfortable letting them know that I was looking before I had an offer and had confirmed that conflicts weren't going to be an issue. I was hoping that would be the end of it, but I ended up having to give the new firm some non-partners to speak to. It turned out fine, and I don't think they were trying to be jerks, but it was stressful and felt unnecessary.

Daboose

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Re: Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

Post by Daboose » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:13 am

Agree. This would be a deal breaker for me. I’d push back and if they insist, just pass on the opportunity. Not worth the risk in my opinion.

FrankeyC

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Re: Potential new employer asking for current employer partner reference

Post by FrankeyC » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:20 am

I got someone I was good friends with and barely more senior than me to bullshit this and say they'd supervised me and how great I was and whatnot. And then also gave them a couple other references that weren't partners but that would also vouch for me. They contacted them all and it worked out.

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