Mary Nowell
Mary Nowell
Managing Director: Private Practice

Articles From the Team

Managing a counter offer during resignation

Managing a counter offer during resignation

There’s no doubt about it, it’s always flattering to receive a counter offer; there’s probably going to be a salary increase and let’s face it that’s always enticing. But why would an employer make a count offer? Sorry to disappoint there are commercial reasons at play!

Some of the implications of losing an employee are:
• Time and money - Replacing you can be an expensive process. There are sometimes inevitable recruitment fees and of course a significant time investment in finding the right person
• Skills – You know how all about the nuances of your law firm. Basic things like how your case system works to the particular requirements of the partner that you work for. Re-training can be time-consuming and ultimately costly
• Instability – You leaving can create instability within the remaining team. Is the grass greener on the other side? Well you thought so and as such others may question whether they could achieve more elsewhere.

Generally the above is not alluded to during a counter offer. Partners or HR officers will often appeal to your sense of loyalty and try and engage in more than a little flattery. You will immediately become “just too valuable to lose” or the promotion that seemed just so allusive in your last appraisal will be offered up without the blink of an eye. Remember that pay increase that you asked for (and didn’t receive)? Well you now found yourself with the promise of new riches. This may well appear very tempting, exciting even, but there is always a negative impact from a counter offer. Some implications may be;

• A change in relationship between you and your manager. I have spoken to people in the past who have cited a perceived lack of loyalty or a lack of trust from a manager post resignation.
• The underlying issues remain. Once the glean of a pay rise wears off you can sometimes find the next promotion once again allusive and further pay rises out of reach. You soon find that impact of the pay rise lessens and you are left questioning you future prospects.
• From our experience a large proportion of those who have stayed with an employer post resignation leave that employment within a relatively short period and reinitiate their job search.

So what advice would I give you?

• Only ever accept a new position that you entirely committed to. If you are moving just for financial reasons speak to your current firm first!
• Remember the reasons you are looking for a new position when you resign. If you do receive a counter offer ensure that all of these concerns have genuinely been addressed. That pay increase may not address your concerns in the longer term.
• Don’t use resignation as a negotiation tool. You should always remember that a resignation could impact the relationship with your partner negatively and result in a perceived lack of loyalty.
• Consider your new employer. If you are having doubts then don’t leave it until a short period before your start date to decide to remain. Remember that a recruitment process is time consuming and your new firm will have planned for your arrival.
• Be very careful not to burn your bridges. Communicate with your current firm, new firm and if appropriate your recruitment consultant at all times.

My final advice would be to take every decision you make seriously, carefully and after a period of research and reflection. Moving roles is a huge decision, and in an ideal world one that you should have taken before you embark on a new job search.

For more advice on this topic or if you are looking for your next legal job speak to Mary Nowell on 0845 241 0933 or email

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