How to Leave a Job on Good Terms

Congratulations on the new job! Now, how do you leave your current one? Over the past 20 years, I have watched hundreds of professionals resign from their jobs. There are definitely some Do’s and Don’ts that reflect on your long-term reputation. When it is time for you to move on, consider these:

Do’s
1)  Leave on a positive note. Complete everything you are able to complete before your departure and leave a status report outlining the current state and next-steps for on-going projects. Leave clear instructions for how to complete tasks that had been your responsibility.

2)  Take time to thank all the people you worked with and, if possible, write a memo for their file if they were exceptional. Knowing what a small world the legal field is, it is highly likely that your paths will cross again and they will be very happy to see you!

3)  Leave your files in good order so the person who takes over your responsibilities can easily locate any documents that they need. You want your former colleagues speaking of you well, long after you are gone.

Don’ts
1)  Don’t burn bridges. Even if you hated your boss and the Firm, don’t air all your complaints as you depart. I heard of one person who sent an email addressed To: ALL MEMBERS OF FIRM – “Resigning” and listed all the things wrong with the people and place. I have a feeling this final departure note became part of his permanent file and the Firm is no longer a reference he would choose to use.

2)  Don’t take firm documents/property. Yes, we all know this, but sometime we rationalize that since we produced this great report, research, or proposal template, it is ours to take. If you glance at the Firm manual, it clearly states that anything you produced and were paid for belongs to the Firm and not to you personally.

3)  Don’t become a slacker your last few weeks. Some people decide that once they have resigned, they no longer need to do work. This is not a good idea! We tend to remember the most recent events better than we can recall those of 2 years ago. If you slack off, then this will be their last memory of you and all your hard work will be erased by this final impression.

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