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I Wish I Knew How to Quit You: The Guide to Making a Graceful Exit

published April 16, 2007

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Before turning the doorknob to enter a partner's office, stop, breathe, and repeat after me: ''Less is more.''

The hand-wringing and anxiety often associated with giving notice are almost always completely unfounded. I know lawyers who stay up at night imagining that their partners will crumble and wail upon hearing the bad news. Others imagine themselves telling the partnership to "take this job and shove it."

Lawyers should come to terms with the fact that in most situations, submitting a resignation is neither as scary nor as fun as one might think. Remember that a resignation is a fairly simple business transaction—it's ending one business relationship to start another. Although there may be complicated feelings of loyalty, excitement, resentment, and pride, it is, at its heart, a professional interaction.

The first step in planning a resignation is deciding when to resign. Conventional wisdom says that Fridays are the best days to resign. People tend to believe that resigning on a Friday gives bosses and coworkers the weekend to process the news and prevents an immediate flurry of gossip mongering. Since the industry standard is two weeks' notice, it does often make sense to give notice on a Friday and wrap things up two weeks hence, at the end of the workweek.

Do be prepared to give your current firm two weeks. While not all firms will require you to stay, the overwhelming majority of people take that time to wrap up their work and transition out of their firms.

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