Four Categories Lawyers Should Question When Considering to Make a Move

January 7, 2021

Looking to advance in your career?  Lawyers who desire career progression within the profession may reach a plateau in their current legal job.  There is a variety of reasons they might cite to make a move to another opportunity.  Rarely have we found that money is the number one reason.

For several years, The Counsel Network, in partnership with the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, (CCCA), has  commissioned the highly reputed In-House Career & Compensation Survey. Our strategic purpose behind this comprehensive the survey is to benchmark lawyer compensation as well as better understand compensation related issues within the legal community across Canada.

Generally, results of the survey remain consistent to what we hear from our clients and candidates. As legal recruiters, we know from our decades of experience that compensation consistently ranks important to candidates but very rarely had candidates cited it as their primary reason to seek a new position. Regardless, for lawyers who may have reached a career crossroad,  it is critical to carefully consider pros and cons when contemplating a change.

Based on what top legal recruiters routinely hear as common reasons behind why lawyers move from one position to another, there are four standard categories lawyers should deliberate before accepting any offer to move.  Stepping into a new legal job  for only a very a slight change in compensation may lead to being a penny wise but a pound foolish.

Promotion / Greater Responsibility

Assess the legal department or law firm structure relative to your position.  Has your career progression in your current legal job hit its ceiling? Are there other advancement opportunities within the organization without someone having to vacate a position?

Quality of Work

Assess your work assignments.  Are they interesting, stimulating, challenging and diverse? Or, has your mind ‘zoned-out’ and you are ‘going through the motions’.  Has your skill set development languished?  Do you sense that your technical skills and legal talents are underutilized in your legal job?

Security & Stability

Assess the stability of your organization and security of your position.  Is your Spidey sense indicating there are turbulent times on the horizon?  Do you fear not having a position in the future regardless of your personal performance? Are there changes in the management structure or changes in your role of concern?

Cultural Fit

Assess the organizational culture of your employer.  Do you fit in and more importantly does the core values align with your own? Do you feel like the other individuals you interact with internally share common philosophies with regards to work and ethics? Do you personally get along with the individuals whom you report to and those who report to you?

Take into consideration the most common reasons behind lawyers deciding to move to a new legal job.  Questioning the four categories will help you gain a far better grasp of why you might want to change legal jobs. Very rarely is compensation the only reason why people decide to move since sometimes it is perhaps the easiest one to remedy.

For any lawyer, both the purpose behind your making a move and what you aim to accomplish by doing so is important to articulate in advance so you can appropriately weigh different factors.  Doing so will much more likely result in your landing a legal position that best suits your current and future needs.


Dal Bhathal is a Managing Partner at The Counsel Network, a Canadian legal recruitment firm specializing in legal talent management strategies covering all levels of lawyers and practices for both corporate legal departments and law firms. To discuss talent management strategies that drive attraction of top legal talent, contact Dal at or 416.364.6654/604.643.1708.

strategies, contact Dal at or 416.364.6654/604.643.1708. 


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