Tiffany Farber is a solo practitioner who has been practicing law since 2008. As someone who has been through transition in her career, she understands the challenges lawyers in this situation face.
If you’ve just been let go from, or have chosen to leave, your job, your mind is all over the place. Even so, there are some things you should do before too much time passes. Here are a few of the things I recommend doing:
1) Make sure you get paid any money that is owed to you. This seems obvious, but you would be surprised by some of the stories I have heard. Although it’s always good to keep a collegial relationship with your former employer, make sure you have organized records on your way out, in case you need to fight for money that you are owed. Often times, attorneys are afraid to get on the bad side of a former employer for fear they will receive a poor recommendation. You should not be denied money you have worked for due to sheer retaliation by a, pissed off, former employer. If you have been denied money that is rightfully yours, do not be afraid to pursue legal action.
2) Contact the people with whom you had a good relationship while at your job. Tell them that you are now on the market. Do this while things are still fresh: it is more likely that as time passes, those people will forget all of the excellent work you did, leave their firms or become busy. Ask your contacts for their personal e-mail addresses if you only have their work contact info. This way, you can always reach out to them. Send your resume to those folks, and then send them a personalized, hand-written, thank you note for taking the time to keep you in mind.
3) If you used your business address as a mode of contacting you, update your info. Let Sullivans know you are no longer with your firm, update your ARDC information and tell the bar associations to start sending your mail elsewhere. It saves you time later, and it will assure that you get timely information from organizations and agencies about meetings and events.
4) Sign up with temp agencies, especially agencies that staff document review projects. You can always say no when presented with an opportunity, but it feels good to have something offered to you when you are worried about money.
5) Try to remain positive about the experience you had at your former job. If you had a bad experience, don’t focus on that while talking to potential employers. It doesn’t look good when a potential employee speaks poorly about their former place of employment in an interview. Always try to steer the conversation back to the impressive things you did at your job. If you left on bad terms, try not to bring that up if at all possible. We are all human, and we can’t all get along with one another, but if you spend a minute talking about a bad experience try to spend twice as long on the positive ones. When you are out networking in the legal community, behave in the same manner. People gravitate towards positive people more than negative ones.
6) Oh yeah, and don’t lie to any FBI agents. Juries hate that.