Most legal counselors hoping to leave their current practice know that they need to think about when and what information they can disclose, how much prep work they can do prior to declaring their choice to leave, and how lawyers changing law firms can follow confidentiality and non-competence previously, during, and after they switch. For associates who want to switch law firms, a list of do’s and don’ts will be helpful.
As a result, we have compiled a list of seven do’s and don’ts a lawyer can follow while changing law firms.
Do’s of Changing Law Firms
1. Get An Official Job Confirmation Letter
First and foremost, and most importantly from a financial standpoint, associates should receive formal, written confirmation of their work offer. During a recession, numerous law firms make informal offers that they later withdraw due to financial reasons. Associates should acquire formal, written confirmation of the new request of employment to eliminate the possibility of leaving one organization only to have the employing firm change its mind.
2. Resign Officially
Second, associates should formally resign from their current job in writing, with a specific date in mind. In most cases, the separation will be amicable, and the transfer from the old to the new firm will be smooth. On the other hand, departures can be far more difficult in smaller organizations when the workload is not easily absorbed.
A formal confirmation of the resignation’s effective date is necessary. There should be no uncertainty when your employment term ends at the previous firm and when the new job begins. Even if the previous business demands that a resigned associate leave right away, the associate should confirm the effective resignation date in writing.
3. Confirm the Insurance Policy
Finally, associates should double-check that they are covered by the new firm’s legal malpractice insurance policy. Typically, speaking with the firm’s broker, checking the policy, or obtaining confirmation from the insurer is all that is required. Most firms ensure claims are made after an associate joins the new firm. As a result, the associate should double-check rather than leave it to chance.
If you are in any doubt, consider getting tail coverage from your old company’s malpractice insurance provider. The most crucial thing for an associate to do is to guarantee they are insured for any claims stemming from their prior workplace. This information should be confirmed in writing once again by firms. Therefore, check here if you are considering switching law firms.
4. Inform Your Clients Properly
Fourth, colleagues must ensure that clients are correctly (and quickly) informed of the change. Because attorney-client relationships are so personal, they might last long after an associate leaves the firm. As a result, if the attorney-client relationship has terminated due to the associate’s departure from the law firm, it is critical that the client be notified in writing.
In most cases, the former law firm and the associate agree on sending a letter to clients informing them of the associate’s departure. However, it is more likely that no such agreement will exist in the setting of a smaller organization.
If this occurs and no warning is given to the clients, the associate is responsible for notifying the clients with whom they worked. Nothing else needs to be done if the previous firm tells the clients of the associate’s departure. Of course, the old firm’s notification does not restrict the associate from making a comparable notification.
When you are sending client notices, they should be straightforward and concise. It should essentially explain that the associate has left the firm and joined a new firm. You can also add revised contact information to let the clients know where they can reach you.
Since the associate no longer represents the client, the associate should confirm that any correspondence should be directed to the former firm. If the client wants to continue their arrangement with the associate, the associate should inform the client to employ their new firm and terminate the previous contract. Also, ensure that you are not violating a non-competence clause against your previous firm.
Don’ts of Changing Law Firms
5. Don’t Forget To Review Agreements
When you’ve decided that you want to leave your current job, the first thing you should do is dig up your prior agreement and thoroughly study any partnership, shareholder, or employment contracts you signed there. Look for any terms that require you to do certain activities in order to carry out your departure.
Minimum notice periods, shareholder buy-out procedures, forfeiture of non-vested retirement assets, and other financial implications are examples of such clauses. If you don’t have a written employment contract, look through any employee handbooks for similar regulations and penalties. You can incorporate this information into your departure preparation process once you’ve uncovered it.
6. Don’t Overlook Legal Obligations
When planning and carrying out your employment termination, you must adhere to specific ethical and legal requirements that compel you to regard the business interests of your existing employer and colleagues. Practice and ethics regulations, contract law, and general business law all contain those requirements.
For example, as a member or employee of your current company, you must not use your position for personal benefit at the expense of the company. To put it another way, you should avoid diverting your present firm’s resources for your advantage, jeopardizing your work for the firm or current clients, and interfering with your current firm’s potential economic gain or contracts with vested interests.
7. Don’t Rush Anything
Take some time to consider how and when you will inform your current colleagues of your plans, in addition to planning for your new job and communicating with clients. Aim for a pleasant interaction. It is vital not only for your peace of mind but also to mitigate the chance that leaving will cause any complications. Ensure the employment transition doesn’t harm previous clients, leaving you open to legal malpractice or business tort lawsuits.
We hope that this list of do’s and don’ts will help you smooth your transition process. As we mentioned above, do not rush things and plan your switch to make it as flawless and conflict-free as possible.