Your Job, Your Career, or You: When to Quit Your Career

hate job or hate careerWhen should you quit your career? How do you know when you’ve chosen the wrong one? How long should you give yourself before you quit — and how many jobs should you try in that career? Reader F has SUCH a great question about this:

Question for you: how do you know if you hate your particular JOB or hate your whole CAREER? I’m a first year associate in (the biggest of) big law, and I know it was supposed to be hard — I knew I was going to bill 200 hours a month coming into this! — but I think my position might be particularly hard because of people I work for. How do I know the difference between a challenging environment (and maybe should switch jobs) or a terrible career choice (and maybe should switch careers)? At what point do you throw in the towel and say, “It’s not them, it’s me”?

I can’t wait to hear what readers say here because I think this is something a LOT of people — particularly entry-level BigLaw lawyers — struggle with. We’ve talked about changing careers before (the pros and cons of different careers, as well as my own experience in career changes. While I had yet to find my fit in the law before I decided to focus on this blog, many of our readers are happy lawyers, and hopefully they’ll have some great advice for Reader F. For what it’s worth, though, here’s my take:

Reader F is less than one year in. She’s just spent three years of her life getting this degree — and unless she was fantastically lucky to get a ton of scholarships, significant money has undoubtedly been spent. Considering the investment of money and time, I would suggest she owes it to herself to spend at least as many years being a lawyer. I remember years ago a reader shared her “two year rule” for new jobs:

My theory on job satisfaction is that anyone can do any job for 2 years. The first 6 months you are still learning the job and meeting everyone. The next 6 months you are getting the hang of it so you’re actually starting to get into a comfort zone and enjoy it. The third 6 months is when you start to realize, hey this job kind of sucks. Then in the last 6 months you are able to power through because you’ve already started planning and taking actions to get to your next job. After 2 years, unless you can honestly say you’re fully engaged and loving your job, then you better start making a move before you totally burn out without an exit plan.

(Maddeningly, I can’t find it on the site right now, only in my personal OneNote.) Anyhow: I hadn’t heard it put like that before, but I agree with it, and I think two years is long enough to avoid the appearance of job hopping. So I would say, Reader F, power through in your BigLaw job. Definitely try to get work with other people (since that sounds like it’s a main component of your current discontent), and possibly try other paths in your job, such as doing both litigation and corporate. You could talk with HR about getting more flexible hours, or job sharing. You could even try to change offices within your BigLaw job, and move to a different city where the vibe is different. After you’ve been there about 1.5 years, start looking for a new job. (Unless you want to clerk, in which case, start now!) At that point, I’d suggest connecting with a good recruiter (or a career coach) and explore what might be a good next move in the law: another BigLaw job, perhaps in a different city? A smaller law firm? A non-profit job? Government work? A clerkship? There are different pros and cons to each — but I think you can definitely get another 2 years out of your next move. After those two years are up, you should have even more options in the law (such as working in house), outside the law (such as finding a job where having a JD is a benefit but not required — at least in my experience those are usually more senior positions), or in a law-related field (such as my friend who became a law librarian). After four years, you could also make a total career change. Keep in mind that at this point, you may or may not have a family to consider, also, which tends to change things — you may need flexibility, a certain income, a different city, whatever.

The one caveat, I would say, would be if Reader F was really curious about another field that is a better fit for an energetic, unattached 20-something (if that indeed describes Reader F). For example, when I was around 30 I considered switching to a consulting career; it sounded fun to me. My friends who had done it strongly, strongly encouraged me to ignore that avenue, noting that the work and travel requirements are not conducive to someone who was, at that point, looking for a change from BigLaw hours. A friend who got her MBA in her late ’20s was strongly encouraged away from investment banking for similar reasons. Similarly, you may want to consider a bigger adventure, such as working abroad — it’s certainly not impossible with a family, but logistically it’s a lot easier if it’s just you.

In the meantime, Reader F, avoid those golden handcuffs, particularly with an apartment you’re never in, SAVE, and make a serious dent in any student loans you have.

Ladies, what are your thoughts — when should you throw in the towel with your career? What factors would make you switch?

(Pictured at top: my job sucks, originally uploaded to Flickr by Cyndy.)


N.B. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course we highly value all comments by our readers, we’re going to ask you to please keep your comments on topic; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. Thank you for your understanding!


  1. The biggest advice I can give is any point in which you think “I need to make a switch” begin running a 1 year clock – and if at the end of the year you still agree, then begin making strides in that direction. That, and if you have an interest far outside your career, see what you can do on a volunteer or educational level in that field to test the waters. If it doesn’t pan out you can chalk it up to a failed hobby.

    • Agreed! I actually put “Quite ___ job” on my calendar on a certain date about 6 months out.
      My philosophy was that I’d look for another job very intensely, but if I hadn’t found a new job by that point, I’d quit. Wouldn’t you know– I find a job that was a step (or 10) up both in title, salary, and responsibilities, that I stayed in for a year, which then led to my current position, which I absolutely love.
      Having that running clock just gave me a bit of a kick in the pants to get moving.

  2. I think that knowing how much the personalities will work out in the long term is really tricky when you’re just going through OCI, the 2L summer, etc. I ended up in a situation where the personalities were the biggest stressor, and as a 2011 grad, it took me a couple of years before I could make the switch, but right now the market is ripe for earlier lateral moves. There are MANY people who are into their high single digit years of practicing, and I find that most of them have made at least one move, and one of the moves occurring sometime after 6 months and before 4 years. I really enjoy my current biglaw practice, which is not where I started, so I recommend giving another place another try, and since you are currently employed, I’d interview at a few places to get a feel and really talk to the associates before making the switch. Best of luck!

  3. What a timely post. I am 10 years in to my legal career and HATE it. My niche is becoming commoditized, budgets are shrinking, and expectations/legal requirements are expanding. Ugh.

    Through aggressively investing and paying down debt, I have enough saved to be financially independent at Mr Money Mustache’s frugal lifestyle budget. It is very de-motivating to consider working more than the minimum to keep my job.

    My SO is keeping me here. He doesn’t want to leave our area for a few more years. Sigh.

    I am attempting to move in house. Hopefully the career change will be enough to keep me engaged and interested in my career.

    Anyone else lucky enough to have this problem? Or what would you do?

    • Anonymous :

      I’m in your boat. I feel really stuck. My skills (not legal, but similar caliber) are pretty specialized too so moving to a different role would be tough.

    • If you already have enough saved to be FI, why not just “retire”? You can still work part-time doing things that are fun for you. In essence, you have the money, so why are you still working for a salary? Time to go do something you’d do for free…

      • Honestly, my SO is keeping me here. It’s a HCOL area and I can’t afford to retire in place, no matter how frugal. The rent is just too d4mn high.

  4. Anonymous :

    I tell every junior associate never to give up on Big Law without switching firms (and potentially practice areas). There are some things common to all of Big Law, like long hours and an intense work environment. But there are SO many things that vary a lot from job to job. Working with nice people on interesting projects makes Big Law so much more tolerable, and you will not find that at every group/firm. It may be that Big Law is not for you. It’s not for a lot of people. But you shouldn’t give up without trying a different firm. Also from the OP’s question, it sounds like you’re a Vault 10 firm or something like there. There is a huge difference between Skadden and firms in the lower half of the AmLaw 200 (or even 100) in terms of quality of life and hours expectations (and compensation).
    Also remember that Big Law is a very small subset of the lawyer jobs that exist in the world. Being a lawyer != being in Big Law. If you choose to leave Big Law you are choosing to leave a certain type of job, not giving up on your career.

    • Anonymous :


      I’m in a transactional area and found that not doing anything m&a related dramatically improved my QOL. It’s not all rainbows & unicorns, but after a few bumps in the road, I’m still here working and enjoy what I do and the people I work with. I hate some things (it is BigLaw, but not AwfulLaw), but I could have a harder life easily and I feel lucky.

    • Maybe, or maybe someone will decide they want something they will never get in BigLaw, like getting to representative a certain, public interest perspective that large firms don’t handle consistently.

      • FormerBigLaw :

        Yes, definitely try another firm (or practice area or city) first. Most important of all is do not let your budget expand just because your salary has. Don’t buy a fancy car, nice clothes, eat out every day, etc. If you live below your means, you will have so much more flexibility!

  5. I’m not a lawyer, but I worked in PR for several years in various very high-pressure industries. I was making an easy six figures with huge annual bonuses and stock options, but was regularly putting in 70-90 hours. A lot of people can handle it, I can’t.

    I couldn’t sleep. I developed awful eating habits. I cried constantly (at home, I somehow could pull myself together at work). I would sometimes hyperventilate pulling into my parking spot in the morning and have a panic attack. I don’t think I actually saw my husband for a few months because I would come home from work and would go lay in bed, not sleeping, just staring at the ceiling trying not to think.

    I went for my annual visit to find out I had gained 80 lbs (I’m sure I really did know but was so busy I hadnt paid it attention…it was a shock to me). My blood pressure was through the roof.

    I had to change, for the sake of my own sanity. I quit. I moved 900 miles and started working in PR for a little non-profit. They could only offer me 50% of what I was making before, but I leave promptly at 4:30 every day and have generous vacation. They have a strict policies that emails should not be sent after 4:30 unless the building is literally on fire. The stress isn’t there. I ENJOY work. I go home feeling satisfied and proud. It was well worth the paycut to get my health/sanity back.

    Anyone thinking of making a leap…seriously, there are other options out there!

    • KT, did you by chance used to have a blog you linked on here? Your story sounds familiar, but I don’t want to out you in case that was intentional. If it was you, I hope you blog again soon – loved your posts!

      • I did, thank you! When I made major life changes, I ended the blog.

        • Anonymous :

          Don’t answer if too personal, but did your health improve at the new job too?

          • It improved by leaps and bounds :)

            Within a few weeks of starting my new job, I started actually getting restful sleep. I was able to stop with some of the anxiety meds I had started to cope with my work. I ate more consciously–I wasn’t TRYING to diet or eat healthfully, but because I wasn’t so hyped out/panicky, I stopped reaching for sugar and comfort foods and felt satisfied after eating.

            I’ve been at my new job almost 6 months. I’m down 20 lbs–still a long way to go, but my blood pressure is back in the normal range, I have actual energy, and I feel like a different person.

          • Anonymous :

            Thanks. That’s really inspiring.

  6. This is so on point for me, I put in my two weeks’s notice last week. People seem horrified that I am leaving my job without having a job. At some point you just need out of a bad situation.

    • quitting! :

      I am planning to do the same in a couple of months. Gonna quit my job without another one lined up. I’ll have a chunk of cash from my accrued leave and I have a few ideas for the next step. But I’m not going back to the practice of law. No way.

      • anonymous :

        I just quit my job without another lined up too, solely because of the awful people with whom I worked. I realize I’m fortunate to be financially capable of taking the next 6 months off to look for a job, but so far the search is much less stressful. I also had several health problems that almost immediately cleared up, the stress had been making me so sick. Good luck to you too!

  7. I think that Reader F has to consider the motivations that led her to BigLaw (heck, or even law school) in the first place. Was she genuinely interested in the work? Did she take the job because it seemed the easiest way to pay of student debt? Or was she a great student who just kind of stumbled into the position? The answers to those questions will say a lot about whether it is the particular firm, BigLaw in general, or law practice in general that is what is making her unhappy.

  8. Anon in NYC :

    I always knew that I wanted to go into government, so becoming a biglaw partner was never something I wanted to achieve. I went into biglaw for the money, the training, and because I was too risk averse to wait until my 3L year to figure out what I was going to do post-graduation. Personalities played a big role in why I hated biglaw for the first two years of my career (and I really liked my firm during OCI/2L summer). The insane hours didn’t help either, but I expected that. After the first two years I stopped working as much with those really difficult people, so I found it more bearable. I also found that working with people that I liked was a thousand times better, even when I was really busy. I made it about 5 years, and began seriously job hunting in my 4th year.

    Since I knew I wasn’t aiming for partner it helped me keep things in perspective, and I invested a lot of hours (on top of my crazy billable hours) in doing interesting pro bono work that I found both personally fulfilling and also would enhance my resume. Finding ways to develop my skills in research, writing, and oral advocacy made me feel like I was growing professionally and gave me something to talk about in interviews. I know that pro bono corporate work can be a little more difficult to come by, but learn how to set up non-profits, or small investment funds, or whatever it is that comes along (if you’re doing corporate work). Milk the resources of a biglaw firm for as much as you can to bulk up your resume. It’s hard to network as a first year, but keep up your network of law school friends. I’ve known first years who have lateraled principally due to their friends at other firms who knew they were looking.

    Also, I can’t agree enough with the recommendation to live as frugally as possible. It’s my biggest regret from my biglaw days. You should not make your life more miserable by trying to live so cheaply that you make your life harder or don’t have any fun, but try to make as big a dent in your student loans as you can (or save as much as you can).

  9. This sounds like poorly set expectations to me. If the reader is truly at the biggest of biglaw, then no way was 200 hours a month a reasonable estimate of what she’d be billing. All associates routinely bill that at my firm, which is much more on the lifestyle end of biglaw. Also if she’s at the biggest of biglaw, then she’s been the best all her life. Good grades through school, top or near top of her law school class, probably a fancy journal. Now, she’s in a situation where she’s the bottom rung of the ladder, everyone else has always been the best all their lives, and the work is shit. First year work sucks. It just does. It’s not interesting, it’s not cool, it just needs to get done. She just needs to (wo)man up and do it. If two years in she still feels the same way, then start looking. The only reason to leave her job now is if she can’t practice the area of law it turns out she wants to do (e.g. she wants to do healthcare law and her firm doesn’t have it). Otherwise, the point of being in the top of biglaw is to be able to jump to somewhere you actually want to be, so she needs to stay long enough to be able to make that jump successfully.

    • Anonymous :

      I disagree. If she hates her work environment, she should look for another job. There’s no reason to stick in out and be miserable when she could go to a different for firm for basically the same pay and potentially be much happier. Plenty of Big Law firms don’t require 200+ hours regularly. I was in “lifestyle Big Law” too and 200 hours meant you were having a pretty crazy month. Sure, sometimes you’d have those months for months on end but that was not the expectation for how much you were supposed to be billing, and I know people who made partner who regularly billed around 2000 a year (i.e., 165 a month).

  10. Personalities are a big thing for me (and maybe for you, Reader F), and you have to realize that to a certain extent, people are similar everywhere you go. I left a medium-law job a few months ago because I could not stand the partners at my firm. I would try to switch practice areas, move my office, and nothing really worked. I was tired of people being disrespectful, sloppy, demanding, rude, greedy, you name it. I was sick of partners ignoring my emails all day and then calling me at night demanding something be done right away. I didn’t see any partners that I looked up to or wanted to be like. Ultimately I thought the work itself was fine, but I couldn’t take any pleasure in doing it because so many of my files were a nightmare of personality conflicts.

    I told myself on new years eve that one year from now, I will not still work there. I will say that once I made my mind up about that, I did start to feel a little better about my job. I started looking and when I actually did get my new job, I was almost (ALMOST) sad to leave the old one. Fast forward a few months. At first, my new job was awesome (everyone is so reasonable!) and then I got busy. I am still happier than I was in my old job, but I also still go home and complain to my husband that so and so is so annoying to work for, or that I sat idle all day waiting for the partner to do something and they finally call me about it at 11pm. So I think things are better for me generally now because I am not busy as often as I used to be, but when I get busy things are just as bad as before.

    What I have learned about myself is that I don’t like not being in control. I don’t like depending on others and waiting for them to do things or approve things. I know now that if time passes and I start to feel bogged down again, I will look into a career where I can be more in control, maybe start a consulting company (or a blog, who knows.) I’m rambling but hopefully this helped a little. My advice: give yourself an end date at your current firm so you have an exit plan. Start looking at other firms. Lateral. If you have the same problems, that’s when it’s time for a career change.

  11. My advice to all junior lawyers is to try to do as much informational interviewing as your schedule will allow. Maybe you are considering clerking — even if you aren’t all that committed to the idea — ask around to see who knows someone who took a hiatus from a Big Law job to clerk. Then arrange a coffee date with that person to chat about that and other things. Learn about other practice areas this way. And grow your network, which will be hugely valuable no matter where you go. It was so much easier to do this when I was more junior. Now that I’m (for all outside purposes) settled in a practice area, there is no pretext to do this kind of networking.

  12. I’m a partner in BigLaw and my view is that, if you don’t passionately love the practice of law, it’s unlikely you’ll be in a BigLaw firm long-term. The money won’t be enough to keep you and neither will the prestige. There are a lot of easier ways to make a living and, even for those of us who truly thrive on the work, all of the other nonsense can be overwhelming. BigLaw is a brutal environment where people sprint for the length of a marathon. None of this, of course, means you shouldn’t practice law in any form, you just might not be happiest in this particular environment.

  13. Reader F, I feel you. I’m a junior associate at a big law firm, and my life totally depends on who I’m working for. Some partners are challenging to the point of tears (mine); others are just, well, kind, and the difference is not in the workload. It’s a little crazy that I can really, really enjoy my job one day and truly hate my entire life the next. It’s not that I don’t enjoy working hard and learning, but my life feels like a yo-yo. The emotionally abusive side of big law is much harder than the work.

    That being said, I’m planning to stay for about 3 years and reevaluate. I’m very fortunate to have graduated debt-free, so I’m saving as much as I can in the meantime. I love what someone said above about setting a deadline for yourself. Just knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel can make work more bearable on those really dark days. You can make it! Save money/learn as much as you can in the meantime. At that point, the rest of the advice is really spot-on: transition to a new firm, do something in-house, or look to JD preferred work instead of traditional law jobs. You’ll figure it out!

  14. I am a manager at a large public accounting firm. I was really struggling with this idea a few years ago myself. I think being told that we can “have it all” has made some of us women think that every single aspect of our personal lives and careers have to be perfect. But then I was given this piece of advice, and it has been invaluable to me. There are 3 components of our careers, the work we do, the people we work with, and the money we make. We need to be happy with the majority of these things. So I found that I am happy with the money I make and the people I work with. I don’t necessarily love accounting or get goosebumps about debits and credits, but I am substantially happy with my career, thus I did not leave. Our jobs don’t have to be perfect for us to stay- for me, liking the people I work with and making enough money/having enough PTO to have a very fulfilling personal life are enough for me. Maybe you like the work you do and the money you make, so not loving your co-workers isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.

    • Minnie Pearl :

      I’m a manager at a big 4 and have been struggling with this lately as well. I do love my job and enjoy what I do, but my job is my life, and at this stage it gets very frustrating to deal with partners who don’t have time for you, junior staff with varying levels of motivation, clients who don’t want to work with you or expect me to be there all the time, plus all the internal projects and obligations we’re expected to do at this level. I make enough money now to make my life easier and do get a lot of flexibility in the quieter times. And I do love my coworkers despite my frustrations, generally they are motivated, interesting people, and very good at what they do.

      I did actually leave at one point for much more money and 9-5 hours, but was miserable because I wasn’t being challenged enough and hated being at the same desk every day with the same people. A job is a job, you still have to get up every morning, get dressed, deal with people, do things when you’d rather be napping or having fun. Dreading going to work every day was the dealbreaker for me in that situation. So I think I’m much more appreciative of the good parts of my job than some others.

  15. Not Big Law :

    I don’t understand how people still feel broadsided by big law. Hasn’t this been a cycle of life forever and always? Why do they all cry into paychecks and prestige that they didn’t know what to expect and then feel like refugees when they go in-house? I don’t get it.

  16. Thanks for this. I think it’s important to try out different companies and “niches” within your career field to make sure you’re on the path that fits you best. If you’ve done all of that and are still unhappy, it’s probably time to try something new.


  17. Anonymous :

    I can understand where Reader F is coming from. I recently left my position as a senior associate at small, boutique law firm to go in-house for a Fortune 500 company. My law firm position was stressful, and it required insane hours and billable hour requirements. I typically worked 55-60 hours per week, and I was constantly having to cancel plans with my husband, friends, or family because of work commitments. However, despite all of that, the pay was decent, I loved what I was doing, and I had really amazing co-workers that made it worth it for a while. The main reason I left was because of my supervisor (the owner of the firm), who, for purposes of this post, I will call “Bob.”

    Bob became increasingly difficult to work for over the years. Any significant achievements went unnoticed by him, and even minor mistakes were blown out of proportion. Bob went from being a difficult supervisor to actually being verbally abusive. As a civil litigator, I developed a thick skin, but when Bob’s verbal attacks turned personal, I knew enough was enough. After one particularly heated exchange involving unfounded and demeaning personal attacks that had no relevance to my job at all, I walked out the door and left. Before I got halfway home, Bob started calling my cell phone to apologize and beg me to come back. I ended up returning the next day because I couldn’t afford to quit without having another job lined up, but I began looking for another position. It took several months before I found my current position and everything fell into place for me to leave. There were days where I was so desperate to leave that firm that I think I would have taken just about any other job offered to me just to get out with some sort of financial security. Ultimately, though, I am glad that I waited for the right position to come along, even if it meant a few more months of misery.

    I accepted my in-house counsel position about two months ago, and I could not be happier. My hours are reasonable and predictable, there are no billable hour requirements, the pay is good, the benefits are better, and – perhaps most importantly – my supervisor (“Tom”) is wonderful. Unlike at my old job where I was micro-managed, Tom recognizes that I am knowledgeable and capable enough to do my job without constant oversight, yet he (and the other more senior attorneys) have an open door policy and are always available if I need help. I recognized a bad situation, and I took steps to get out of it while still keeping my career intact. Reader F can, too.

    I say all of that to say this – Reader F, you need to consider exactly what the causes are for your unhappiness. Do you hate the long hours? The unmanageable workload? The billable hour requirements? The nature of the work itself? Is it satisfying? Or is it your supervisor(s)? Your co-workers (or any combination of them)? Are you being given the proper tools and guidance to succeed at your position? Do your supervisors give you enough feed back? Or do they give you too much feedback and micro-manage everything you do? I suggest making a spreadsheet with 2 columns (1 column for things you like and 1 column for things you dislike) for each of the following categories: your work assignments, your work environment, your co-workers, and your supervisor(s). Writing it down should help you more clearly identify what the real problems are.

    If your unhappiness is because of the long hours and/or stressful environment, maybe you should consider practicing a different type of law or practicing in a different type of role. For example, if you currently do litigation (like I did), your practice area is naturally going to be fast-paced and stressful. That environment works for some, but if it does not suit your personality and/or lifestyle, you should probably consider something more transactional such as probate or estate planning. You could also consider doing what I did and go in-house. There are still pressures and stressors as in-house counsel, but you take on a more business advisor role than attorney role.

    If the real reason you are unhappy is because of a personality conflict with your supervisor(s) and/or co-worker(s), you should probably speak to someone in your HR department. (I didn’t have that luxury at my prior small firm because my supervisor was the owner and HR department.) You might be able to transfer to a different department or office within your firm. Alternatively, if the problem is with your firm’s culture, you could always move laterally to a different firm.

    Of course, if you know now that law practice is not for you, you should probably consider a career change. You do not have to practice law just because you have a J.D. There are plenty of other careers out there where you can use your skill set in a non-legal role. Whatever you choose, I hope it makes you happy!

  18. Moonstone :

    I have waaaaaay too much to say on this topic, so I will cut it down to 2 main ideas. 1) The first couple of years after you are done with school are a huge adjustment and painful for many people. All the rules about how to be successful have changed and your long-term project is not a semester but, you know, maybe 3 years or 10 years. Most of us will work for many decades, so hang in there as best you can for the first two years and see how it stabilizes. 2) I have changed careers three times since I started working in 1987. That’s going to be true for many people. Keep your eyes openat work and figure out what you want from a job, then see who has that kind of job. Set goals for yourself to become qualified for that kind of job. Meet people who do that job. Get that job. Don’t be too scared to make a change.

  19. You will have many careers during your lifetime. This reader is in her 20s – if law isn’t cutting it, quit, & try something new. She has very little to lose right now; the only thing holding her back is probably student loans (no mortgage, no marriage, no kids, for example). Figure out exactly how much you need to make to keep paying off the debt, & experiment with new careers. Forget about “what it looks like” — the old rules are dead, thanks to a million economic & social changes. Life is way too short to be miserable 40+ hours per week.

  20. Anonymous Associate :

    Would it be absolutely insane to ask my old law firm to “take me back?” I left the firm only due to geography, but I LOVED working there. After only a few months, it is blatantly obvious that my new firm is not working out well at all for a multitude of reasons. My old firm offered to let me work remotely in a effort to keep me-so I am interested in taking them up on the offer. I just feel like I realized that a few months “too late.”

    More generally, has anyone worked remotely for a law firm? Thoughts?

    • SmallLawMeg :

      The worst they can say is no. I am a lawyer at a small litigation firm. A while ago, a new associate started from a bigger law firm. She was awesome and became a dear friend, but she wasn’t happy in SmallLaw. After about 8 months, she asked her old, big firm if she could come back, and they said yes. You never know!