Staying with a toxic partner can hurt your legal career

January 24, 2018

Loyalty within the legal profession is both an underrated and overrated value. At one end, it is underrated in that legal recruiters and employers really do value a certain degree of loyalty and continuity in a candidate’s career. Too many jumps raise glaring red flags ranging from the candidate’s ability to succeed in any working environment to the quality of their legal experience and skills.

That said, often times, lawyers place too much weight on loyalty, especially in the context of working with notoriously difficult partners–they assume that future employers will be impressed with their dedication. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true; blind loyalty, especially to a notoriously difficult lawyer, can have overwhelmingly negative career (and even health) consequences. I explored this topic in some detail this article.

Among other consequences, working too closely with a toxic partner can inhibit your ability to excel and be creative on your files, cause you to form poor habits and damage your reputation through association.

Lawyers who are otherwise keen to escape a negative working environment commonly set self-imposed finish lines, such as, “I’ll consider leaving after I have stuck it out for x months/years.” Depending on the circumstances, such goal-setting can be empowering or debilitating…

Is your loyalty serving you? Or, are you serving your loyalty?

If you’re considering your next move, speak to one of our legal recruiters who would be happy to discuss your options.


David Namkung, Partner