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A photo of the Story Bridge in Brisbane city at dusk

How to resign

So you’ve secured a great new job and now it’s time to resign. For many lawyers we speak to this can be an arduous task whether it be because you love your job and your colleagues and feel you are letting them down or you are simply terrified of how your boss is going to react. We have put together a few tips to help you resign on good terms.

  1. Write a resignation letter: This should be a short, professional and positive letter and include:
  • a paragraph stating you are resigning, advising the notice you are giving as required by your contract and nominating an end date. If you are seeking to negotiate your notice period you may want to nominate a preferred end date;
  • a paragraph thanking your boss / the company for the opportunity you are leaving and any niceties you may wish to mention (significant achievements, how much you have enjoyed working with the company etc.);
  • you need not put reasons for leaving in your letter but if you choose to you should keep it professional and ensure you do not get emotive or negative;
  • end the letter on a positive note indicating you will work hard to ensure that an effective handover of your matters is done during your notice period.
  1. Resign face to face: Whether you arrange a meeting or pop into your supervisor’s office first thing in the morning a resignation needs to be done face to face. Bring your letter in with you in an envelope and give it to your supervisor advising that you are resigning. Most supervisors will know what the meeting is about as soon as you walk in with an envelope.
  2. The resignation: Focus on leaving your role on positive terms. Give your supervisor your reasons but keep these as positive as you can. Even if you dislike your role / supervisor, don’t focus on the negative. You don’t want to burn bridges and you never know where your current supervisor might show up in the future. Ways to do this are emphasising what you have learnt, achievements, how good it has been working in your current role while explaining that what you are moving onto is different eg. bigger work, a different practice, in-house etc.
  3. The counter offer: While your supervisor might accept your resignation quite easily, in many instances expect your supervisor to ask a lot of questions and potentially also seek to address those issues and/or make you a counter offer. This may be in the form of a salary increase, promotion or seeking to “fix” some of the issues you are raising. We have a separate blog on counter offers but put simply beware the counter offer. There has been significant research to show they don’t work (for numerous reasons outlined in our blog) and most people made a counter offer still leave the job within twelve months. Ensure you keep to the positive and hold your resolve. Tell your supervisor you are flattered but tell them your mind is made up.
  4. Negotiate an end date/handover period: You should conclude the meeting by discussing your end date and how the matters you currently have will be handed over. Your supervisor may also want to consider a communication plan to the business regarding your resignation so be respectful of how they wish you to conduct yourself. In some instances your supervisor may “walk” you, particularly where you have very strong relationships with key clients they wish to protect. If you anticipate that will be the case ensure you have prepared yourself for this.
  5. Exit interview: You may be called for an exit interview with HR. Take the same approach as above, focus on the positive, be professional and don’t burn bridges.
  6. Navigating the notice period: How you conduct yourself during your notice period will be how you are remembered by your colleagues. Work hard to finalise your matters as quickly as you can and resist the temptation to show up late, take long lunches and get lazy. Train up the person taking over your matters and ensure your files are handed over to the best of your abilities. Try to avoid the temptation to gossip and talk up the job you are moving to with your colleagues.
  7. Leaving: Take the time before you leave to thank the people in the organisation who have mentored, trained, helped or otherwise supported you. Make sure you get their contact details (work and non-work). These colleagues can be great for your network but also as future potential referees or even employers.


At Peppercorn Recruitment, our Partners are both former lawyers and have a combined two decades of legal recruitment experience. We have provided frank, honest and pragmatic advice to many lawyers over their careers on matters such as negotiating salaries, drafting CVs, interview tips and tricks and of course, changing jobs.

We hope you find this a useful point of reference in your career planning, but should you wish to have a confidential discussion about how we can help, please contact either Peter or Ross. We’re happy to help!