Paralegals: Don't Burn Your Bridges

There's a new job on the horizon. You get to leave your old job. You know, the one with the boss you can't stand. The really mean one. The one you'd love to give a piece of your mind. Matter of fact, you think you'll do just that...before you leave....
It's perfectly fine to act that one out in fantasy, as many times as delights you. But heed this advice - don't do it in reality! And here's why.
Life has a funny way of tossing curve balls our way. That very same ex-boss with whom you shared your parting piece of mind? Suddenly, he's opposing counsel on a new case your new attorney boss just accepted. Even worse, he could be your attorney's co-counsel on a case!
Perish the thought, but what if for some unforeseen reason, your new job doesn't work out? Now you're scrambling to interview elsewhere. You need a recent recommendation. It's going to be rather awkward to ask the one who vividly recalls you spouting off as you waltzed out the door.
One certainly doesn't have to lie when leaving an unpleasant position. "Thank you, Mr. Smith, it's been great working with you. I couldn't wait to get to work every day. I'll miss you." That's really piling it on, isn't it? If that were true, why are you leaving?
If questioned as to why you're leaving, choose a politically correct comment, such as: "I think my skills are better suited to the new position," or "The benefits are simply too good to pass up." Then, go the extra mile. Offer to train your replacement. Ensure the workload you're leaving is manageable - complete tasks that may be difficult for the new employee to assume. Leave detailed notes regarding ongoing assignments, and an updated list of any deadlines or to-do's for both your boss and your replacement.
The best way to leave a job, even a job for the boss you really won't miss, is with style and grace. Never burn bridges. You may have to cross them again!
RECOMMENDED READING: Paralegal Ethics, Cash and Confidentiality
                                                     How Can Paralegals Thrive in New Work Situations


Anonymous said...

Let's turn the tables. Attorney-employers should not burn bridges with their paralegals. Attorney-employers who terminate their paralegals might refuse to: 1) give them a letter of reference; and/or 2) give them any reference. Either option can operate to deny their ex-paralegals new employment.

To put it more directly, attorney-employer ended the relationship. The paralegal no longer works for him/her. It's all over. What does he/she have against the paralegal from getting a new job? For whatever reason, why would he/she bear a grudge against the paralegal?

In Colorado, employers pay premiums into the unemployment insurance fund. The longer former paralegal is unemployed, the longer he/she may collect unemployment insurance benefits. Therefore, as a practical matter, it makes no sense for attorney-employer to badmouth former paralegal. Iis in attorney-employer's interest for former paralegal to return to work lest his/her firm pay higher unemployment insurance premiums.

In the meantime, common sense dictates one should never badmouth a former employer - even if it is the truth and former employer deserves every word.

Janice Gersham said...

I'm a 30 year paralegal/manager. I was never paid overtime and when I decided I was tired of working 80 hours with no compensation, no benefits, the attorney blackballed me. He is giving negative feedback that is absolutely not true. I have no desire to hire an attorney to obtain the back pay and to restore my reputation, what else can I do? I'm 52, but able to work another 20 years. I'm preparing for the LSAT and then will enter law school. It's been two years and this attorney continues to hold a grudge. What can I do?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...