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Ask Ash

15 May 17

Advice column: I moved firms on qualifying, but now just want to leave again. Is it too soon?

Dear Ash

I completed my traineeship with a small firm and moved to a large firm as NQ. I decided to move for less of a commute, higher salary and more opportunity to gain experience.

After six months at the new firm, all I want to do is leave. My supervising partner is known as someone who is difficult to deal with (and has admitted this), and I find it hard to work with him. The workload is also heavier and the work itself far more complex. I feel like I do not fit in and I want to return to the type of work I did before. I am outgoing and very sociable, but within a couple of months I started to feel anxious and uneasy whenever I walked into the office. I dreaded going into work and began having panic attacks. Being logical/practical by nature (and someone who doesn’t get overly emotional), this change in me was worrying. I managed to reason with myself and stop this fear and anxiety, but sometimes it creeps back again. If I could return to my previous firm I would, but they employed someone else and could only offer me a part-time job. I prefer the working environment and client contact of a smaller firm and am looking for suitable positions. However, I worry it will look bad on my CV if I leave somewhere after only six months. What do I say to potential employers?

Ash replies:

As with the course of true love, the course of fulfilment in one’s career is often less than smooth. However, take consolation in the fact that you are not alone: a new job can be unsettling and difficult for most people at some time.

I realise you have been in your job for six months, but you might consider giving yourself more time to settle in. The dread you have experienced over going into work is certainly not a good thing, and it is worth addressing and acknowledging what it is about your job that is making you feel this way. Is it just the people, or the type of work you are undertaking, or a combination of both? I suggest it is important for you to address the reasoning behind your anxiety, if only to ensure you are able to use such knowledge in your next post. If it is the people you find difficult, it may be worth trying to highlight these issues directly to the person concerned, by requesting a review meeting with your manager and askin­g for some insight into your work, perhaps highlighting anxieties you have felt about the job and what you think would help counteract these.

If, as you say, the person concerned has admitted that he is not the easiest to work with, this perhaps indicates a certain openness and an opportunity for you to discuss matters with him directly, by setting out how his actions have affected you and how you think things could change to allow you a better working environment. Addressing these points may at least make you feel better by unburdening yourself of your anxieties, and even if things don’t change you could feel satisfied that you attempted to improve things before moving on.

In terms of moving, it normally takes a few months to find a suitable role in any case, once you take into account recruitment processes and your notice period. Therefore you will in all probability have been in your current job for more than six months and perhaps up to a year before you end up with an offer. When explaining to a potential employer your reason for moving, avoid the temptation to criticise your current employer and instead focus on why you just could not pass up the opportunity to apply for the role.

As you are newly qualified, you could have more justification for leaving early as most employers would understand that NQs are probably still finding their feet in their first couple of years and may not be clear as to what type of law they want to focus on. Therefore you could take advantage of your NQ status to confirm that you have now realised that your passion lies in a particular area of the law. Whatever step you decide to take, remember that no job is worth being so miserable in: there are always alternatives out there, and people you can talk to such as LawCare. You just have to find your way, and you no doubt will do.

Send your queries to Ash

"Ash" is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from Solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Suite 6b, 1 Carmichael Place, Edinburgh EH6 5PH. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that laters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through it's Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, Head of admissions on 0131 476 8162, or by email:


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