I am an ‘06 graduate. After graduating and passing the bar, I temped for a while until I landed a full-time job at a civil litigation firm. I have been there for two years, mostly good, but lately I’m starting to wonder if it might be time to see what else is out there.
What is the proper etiquette for job changes, and are the rules different if I were to go to a government position vs. going to another private firm? I would like to leave for “greener” pastures (let’s be honest, I have bills to pay), but I don’t want to develop a reputation as a hired gun. How often is it acceptable to switch firms?
I appreciate your concern, but you’re over-thinking this. Yes, it’s not great to change jobs every two weeks, but that’s not what you’re doing. Besides, this is the real world we’re talking about here. Like you said, you have to bills pay, which means you need to worry about yourself—and not some imagined, hyper-judgmental third-party perception of yourself. In other words, if you find a better job, jump. With both feet. Especially in this environment.
In the past, a lawyer with “too many jobs in too short a period of time” was considered a malcontent or incompetent. Given today’s economy, there’s probably less of a stigma. Employers understand there is less job stability and more of a need to bounce from job to job. But in your case, this would be your second “real” job in three years. (The temp thing shouldn’t really count. Prospective employers will understand that you were doing what you needed to do until you found a real job.) So if you find a greener pasture, go for it. Don’t worry about being a hired gun—that’s what lawyers are.