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Is Staying for the Team a Good Career Move?

28 April 2019

As we crunch the data on the 2019 legal salary survey, one of the many interesting bits of information we’ve found is this: while money is a strong motivator to leave a firm, the motivation for staying usually isn’t the salary package.

It’s the people.

But is it really good for your career to hang around at a law firm just because you like the people you work with?

Culture Matters

We’ve said it before in relation to partnership moves, promotions and other topics – but it’s not possible to underestimate the significant impact that the culture of a place can have on your career.

An office filled with people that you enjoy being around can be a strong force towards doing better work, being a more positive individual and generally just enjoying life a bit more. After all, with many lawyers working hours that mean more than 50% of their waking Monday to Friday is with these colleagues, the working relationship makes a big difference to your overall career satisfaction.

Good Culture can be Hard to Find

Good culture means, of course, the right culture for you.

Because a good culture for some people can be painfully tortuous for others.

And if you’ve found a culture fit at your firm that you mostly enjoy, most of the time – then it should rightly have a premium value in terms of your career decision making.

Moving firms is always a bit of a gamble when it comes to the people. The partner you’d interviewed with might have been affable, intelligent and engaging – but then when you hit the ground in the new office you realise your first task is to work on a 10 month matter in close quarters to Mr Hyde instead of Dr Jekyll. Many people just don’t want to take that risk.

So generally speaking, we’d agree with the tendency our survey results have shown – sticking around for the people makes a degree of sense.

But Where is the Tipping Point?

Just how far will your desire to stick with the team you like take you though?

Will it tolerate a pay freeze in case of (another) global financial crises? For two years? For three?

Will that desire outweigh a job offer that comes with a 40% increase in salary and bonus options you didn’t previously have?

What if one of your close colleagues leaves first – will that make a difference? What about two? Or three?

We don’t have an answer for this of course, but it’s important for you to consider just how you’re going to approach the question if opportunities arise. How many other factors must come into play before you decide that a move is worth pursuing?

Loyalty Has Merit, But Opportunities Don’t Always Wait

We’re not the kind of legal recruiters who look for any excuse to tell you to leave your job. In truth, sometimes the best career choice is to stay exactly where you are.

That said, sticking with the team no matter what can backfire badly sometimes.

In the wrong circumstances, staying for the team might:

  • result in you being taken for granted;
  • mean you pass up excellent career opportunities;
  • keep you restricted in terms of salary and promotion.

Many lawyers out there follow the adage, it’s “better the devil you know”.

But sometimes that’s just fear and comfort talking, and in order to secure a better career you need to take a leap of faith.

If you’re ready to leap – give us a call.