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Do's & Don'ts of Writing a Farewell Email for Legal Professionals

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Let’s face it. Hardly anyone stays at the same company forever. Eventually the bigger, better deal comes calling, or life takes an unexpected turn and soon enough your inbox is filled with subject lines like “Time to say goodbye” or “So long suckers. I’m outta here!” Coworkers, bosses, friends, and even you will leave eventually, but when that time comes, what will be your final goodbye to the firm?

Yesterday I read a Wall Street Journal article addressing the “Goodbye Email.” It talks about some of the hilarious things employees have written to bid employers adieu. I couldn’t believe someone went so far as to create a tombstone-like goodbye letter composed only of his photograph and his start and quit dates. It’s no wonder he generated mass confusion and worry. People didn’t think he quit, but that he had died!



Another person chose to reminisce about the good ole days like when he stole his boss’s $8,000 leather couch to use in his own office, or when he dressed up like Britney Spears to sing for coworkers at a conference. It’s probably not the best idea to air your dirty laundry and admit thievery to people you could be running in to again in the future, but it seems humor is the driving force behind most people’s goodbye emails.

In difficult times it’s easier to try and make light of a situation by being funny, but there is always the danger that your humor will be taken the wrong way, sounding insensitive, or downright crude. Since networking and who you know play a major—maybe even the biggest—part of landing your next job, the last thing you want to do is leave the firm and your coworkers with a bad impression.

So what’s the magic formula to ensure you write the best goodbye email without offending anyone? It’s best to keep things brief and to the point. Here are some dos and don’ts.

Do mention where you’re going. If you’ve found a new job, let people know the firm you’ll be working for and when you plan to start.

Do thank your coworkers for any support or help they have provided you. It’s okay to mention a few good times you’ve had with them but make sure it’s appropriate.

Don’t go on a tangent about how terrible it was to work there or how your boss was a class-A jerk!

Don’t depress anyone with sappiness or how awesome your new job is going to be. 

Do leave a contact number and email address in case people want to stay in touch.

Don’t air your or anyone else’s dirty laundry.

Do send personal emails to your closest coworkers reflecting on good times and how wonderful it was to work with them.

Do mention that you’d like to keep in touch. As I’ve said, it’s all about networking.


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