Changing Where You Practice

By John Allison, J.D., The Coach for Lawyers, LLC

Changing-where-you-practiceLawyers consider changing where they practice for a number of reasons. A lawyer may be laid off or a law firm may go out of business. A lawyer in private practice may want to move in-house. A law firm partner may see a better opportunity to grow his or her practice at a different law firm. An associate who is not offered a partnership may decide it is time to leave the firm. Sometimes lawyers find themselves in a toxic work environment and simply want to be someplace else.

Here are some tips for lawyers who are thinking about changing where they practice, regardless of the reason for the change.

First, be as clear as you can about why you are considering a change. It may be helpful to ask yourself these questions: What is not working well for me where I am? Why is it not working well? What would I like to be different? Is my current situation likely to improve on terms acceptable to me?

Next, take the time to imagine your ideal situation. Describe what it looks like and how it feels. Who are your colleagues and how do they relate to one another? Who are your clients? When you imagine yourself going to the office, what are you looking forward to?

After taking these steps, look for job opportunities that interest you. If you are considering joining an organization, such as a law firm or a corporate legal department or a government agency, satisfy yourself that the organization has a culture and values compatible with your own.

Finally, be sure the organization has a reputation you want to have. We really are known by the company we keep.

About the Author

John Allison practiced law as a law firm partner in Seattle and as Assistant General Counsel at 3M Company.  He now provides professional coaching and law practice consulting services and recently completed his second book, Transforming the Practice of Law:  Reclaiming the Soul of the Legal Profession.  For more information visit