Many law students have full-time work experience before starting law school. If you are working full-time and have made the decision to go to law school, it has probably dawned on you that you will need to quit your job soon. Maybe you hate your job and cannot wait to get out of there, or perhaps your goodbye will be more bittersweet. Regardless, telling your employer that you are leaving can be a very awkward conversation.
How do I put this?
Have a sit down conversation with your boss. Don’t do this over email or phone call! Explain to them that you have chosen to pursue law school, and will be leaving the company. Express how much you love working there, but law school is the next step for you. Hopefully your boss is happy for you, but be prepared for the possibility this news may stress them out or make them upset. There is nothing you can do about their reaction. Just remain confident in your choice, and know that you have not done anything wrong. You are going to law school for you. If your boss is inconvenienced by your dreams, so be it.
Your boss should be the first to know that you’re leaving. Perhaps you have told a couple of close coworkers about your plans to go to law school, but your boss is still blissfully unaware. Definitely keep this on the DL. Your boss would likely feel disrespected if they find out they were the last to know about your plans.
How much notice should I give?
Many people are under the impression that they are legally required to give at least two weeks notice before quitting a job. The truth is, most states in the U.S. are “at-will employment” states, so you can quit whenever you like. However, the general etiquette is give a minimum of two weeks notice before you leave.
Deciding how much notice to give is a very personal decision, as it comes with the risk of losing your job. You really have to know your employer to determine the best route. Though I had my Letters of Recommendation done before I gave notice, some applicants want to get an LoR from their supervisor, so they have to let their employer know about their plans almost a year in advance.
I work in a law office, and I gave my employer six months notice. It worked out well, as my boss was able to hire my replacement four months before my departure. I helped train her, and she is now ready to take on my responsibilities when I leave, minimizing any disruption in workflow. My boss is thankful that I gave her so much notice, which allows me to leave on a positive note and maintain a valuable professional connection in the legal industry.
Of course, giving six months notice is very risky, as my employer could have decided to terminate me at any time. I considered this risk and determined that based on my relationship with my employer, it was unlikely, and that the benefits outweighed the risk. However, if you believe that your employer may terminate you, certainly give less notice. You need to prioritize your best interests over those of your employer.
When should my last day be?
Once again, this is up to you and depends on your financial situation. I am leaving at the end of July, so I will have about six weeks off before school starts. I am using this time to have some quality time with the fam, and go on a Euro trip with the ole ball ‘n chain. You may also need some time to move and get settled into a new place. However you choose to spend your summer, I hope you are able to take some time to relax and recharge before school begins.