How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview Forum

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How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 11, 2022 9:53 am

Hi I’ve been interviewing for firms that are largely similar to my law firm. That’s why I get asked in every interview why I’m choosing to leave X firm and go to Y despite them having same type of clients, cases etc. I don’t know how to answer because I want to leave because I notice that upper management is actively racist and I don’t have partnership opportunity as a POC at my firm despite doing good work. Of course I would never say that in an interview, but I’m not quite sure what to say instead when asked

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 11, 2022 10:03 am

Do your best to find some anodyne difference between the two firms, even if it seems a bit superficial. So, if you were moving from Paul Weiss litigation to Quinn Emanuel, you could say: "I wanted to go to a firm where remote work was more universally accepted and where there's no dress code." If you can't find any difference, then just say "It was just time for a change" or "I wanted to experience a different firm culture." You are right to recognize that you shouldn't be candid and respond truthfully when asked this question.

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 11, 2022 10:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 11, 2022 10:03 am
Do your best to find some anodyne difference between the two firms, even if it seems a bit superficial. So, if you were moving from Paul Weiss litigation to Quinn Emanuel, you could say: "I wanted to go to a firm where remote work was more universally accepted and where there's no dress code." If you can't find any difference, then just say "It was just time for a change" or "I wanted to experience a different firm culture." You are right to recognize that you shouldn't be candid and respond truthfully when asked this question.
Those are both great essentially meaningless answers that people will accept. Also if you know anyone, even slightly, from law school or wherever who is at new firm, you could say "I have heard great things about it here" or if you have worked across from the firm "I have always enjoyed working across from you and [add one of the other empty statements -- it was time for a change, etc."

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 11, 2022 10:29 am

If you're getting a signing bonus just say that.

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 11, 2022 10:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 11, 2022 10:29 am
If you're getting a signing bonus just say that.
I disagree with that -- even if the bonus was the real reason, you should give some politic (if bullshit) answer about culture so that you look like a "team player."

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 11, 2022 11:48 am

I've lateraled a few times and the line I typically use, and which seems to work pretty well, is something along the lines of the following: "I actually wasn't really looking to leave my firm, I've had a great experience and I've learned a lot since I've been there, but I saw this opening come up and I thought it would be a great opportunity to work for an excellent firm and [your practice group] practice group and to bring my career to the next level."

Doesn't really convey anything substantive, but shows that you won't bad mouth your old firm while commending the "excellence" of the firm you're interviewing with. Also gives the impression that you think very highly of the firm you're interviewing with if you're willing to go to that firm even though you're happy with your current firm.

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 12, 2022 10:43 pm

Never be honest with the reason for why you are leaving. Just find some difference that you're new firm offers that is not offered by your current firm (e.g., geographic location change, trying out a different practice group, etc.). If you are honest with your reason, your current firm might get offended and you will burn bridges (e.g., if you say you are leaving because the new firm is more prestigious or has better deal flow or better exit opportunities).

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 12, 2022 10:54 pm

Tbh a lot of the comments here sound overcautious. If OP is leaving due to toxic environment, why does it matter that bridges are being burned?

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 12, 2022 11:46 pm

I left one firm to join a very similar firm. I was asked this question in every interview, sometimes the first question they asked. I gave the general BS about the practice groups having different things to offer, etc. One partner asked so yeah, but besides the work, why are you leaving? And I said honestly I work with some difficult people and could easily stay at my firm but want a fresh start. That was good enough for him.

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 12, 2022 11:53 pm

Any advice for similar generic responses when moving in house?

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 13, 2022 1:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 11:53 pm
Any advice for similar generic responses when moving in house?
You fell in love with the widget company and hope to continue the relationship with the firm from the other side of the table

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 13, 2022 8:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 10:54 pm
Tbh a lot of the comments here sound overcautious. If OP is leaving due to toxic environment, why does it matter that bridges are being burned?
Because the issue isn’t whether their current firm will be upset by what OP says in an interview. The issue is that it’s considered bad form to badmouth your current firm in an interview, so doing so makes it less likely that the interviewing firm will hire you. That may seem unfair - what if you genuinely are leaving a truly toxic situation? - but the interviewing firm doesn’t want to hire someone who’s hard to work with or perpetually unhappy or hard to satisfy, and when you complain about your current job in an interview, you risk giving the impression that you’re the problem, not the firm you want to leave.

So being honest about the toxic environment you’re trying to leave increases the risk that you won’t get the new job. That’s what you want to avoid (whether you otherwise burn bridges with the toxic firm is up to you. It’s safest never to burn bridges, of course, because law is a surprisingly small world, but that’s your decision. You just have to get a new job first).

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 13, 2022 8:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 10:54 pm
Tbh a lot of the comments here sound overcautious. If OP is leaving due to toxic environment, why does it matter that bridges are being burned?
For the same reason that when you start dating someone new and they shit talk their ex on the first or second date it leaves a bad taste (even if their ex is a total monster).

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 13, 2022 9:49 am

"I actually wasn't really looking to leave my firm, I've had a great experience and I've learned a lot since I've been there, but I saw this opening come up and I thought it would be a great opportunity to work for an excellent firm and [your practice group] practice group and to bring my career to the next level."

This is an excellent response and I've successfully used a variation of this several times.

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Re: How to respond to why I’m leaving firm in interview

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 13, 2022 11:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 10:54 pm
Tbh a lot of the comments here sound overcautious. If OP is leaving due to toxic environment, why does it matter that bridges are being burned?
This was me and I'm an idiot, I thought we were talking about exit interviews for some reason. You're all absolutely right, never bad mouth the previous place in interviews with next place.

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