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How to handle a counter offer

How to handle a counter offer

Looking for a new legal job can be a time consuming and stressful experience. From drafting a CV to approaching firms, preparing for interviews and negotiating an offer, the process can be long and drawn out.  Finally you secure a new job and hand in your notice, only to find that your current employer offers you more money to entice you to stay.  What do you do?

Counter offers are becoming more prevalent as law firms underpay their employees, then only act at the last possible opportunity to keep the lawyers they value.  It is hugely important at this stage not to act on impulse and take the cash offered, as even if you current employer offers you a favourable financial upgrade it might not be in your best interests long term to stay.  Whist you know your current firm and staying can be comfortable, there are many things to consider outside of the cold hard cash offered.

Always consider why you were looking for a new job in the first place.  Are you frustrated at the culture in the team, the lack of career prospects or quality of work?  Are you eager to become more involved in business development, have a better work/life balance or move into more of a supervisory role?  Money will not change other aspects of your role you are disgruntled with.  It’s easy to react quickly to a counter offer, but take your time and weigh up all the factors to ensure you make the best decision for your career in the long term.

For many lawyers, frustration can come with a lack of recognition or feeling undervalued.  If you are worth a pay rise when leaving, why wasn’t this recognised and acted on earlier? A new firm can often be a refreshing change and give you the boost in recognition you need.  Also, now you have handed your notice in once, has the trust been lost with your current employer?  There may remain an underlying feeling of separation which can never be rectified, meaning you are not fed the best quality work or considered for promotion over your colleagues who have remained loyal.

Despite the increase in salary most lawyers who accept a counter offer find themselves looking for a new role a few months later in any event, meaning by then you may have burnt your bridges with new firms you have already interviewed with and turned down.  Consultants at BCL Legal are well positioned to advise you on how to handle a counter offer and the questions to consider before making a decision.  Acting too quickly and being tempted by cash may be easy at the time, but could influence you career to your detriment going forward.

For more information please contact Louisa Phillips, Manager BCL Legal

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