How to Know When It's Time to Quit Your Legal Job

I’ve been working at the same firm for several years. I have what many would consider a good job and paralegal salary, but lately I’ve been feeling restless. I need some legal career advice: How do I know when it’s time to move on?

Although you may not have any major complaints about your current legal job, even a few minor issues can be enough to unsettle you. Changing jobs is stressful, but it’s also one of the best ways to advance professionally. Take the following legal career advice and five questions into consideration before you fully commit to a job search:

1. What has changed since I started working here? Have staff turnovers increased? Maybe you have a new boss, or management downgraded some of the perks you really liked. These and other factors are outside of your control, and they can affect your job satisfaction.

2. Do I find fulfillment in my legal job? According to a Robert Half Legal research, the top career concern of surveyed lawyers was “doing meaningful work.” Even if your legal job is stable and your paralegal salary/compensation package is above average, you can feel like you want to quit if your work is not personally enriching.

3. Am I recognized and thanked for my work? If you think your opinions don’t count or the majority of your tasks consist of following directions without being allowed to provide your own input, your restlessness may be due to a feeling that your talents are undervalued.

4. Do I enjoy my specialty? Perhaps your dissatisfaction comes from the practice area itself. If you work on compliance all day but your interests have shifted to eDiscovery, for example, then you’re mismatched with your legal job.
5. Am I burned out? When was the last time you took a vacation? Restlessness and discontentment can be a symptom of being overworked.

The best legal career advice is to make small changes first. If you’re feeling overworked, take some much-deserved paid time off. If you want more of a challenge or you want to try a different practice area and your firm is large enough, ask your manager about a lateral career move. However, if the restlessness is due to a mismatch in office culture or other factors outside your control, there’s no need to stay in your present legal job — not when other firms want to hire experienced legal professionals with in-demand skills.