Transferring offices in biglaw can be a challenging process depending on when you are looking to make the move. While it can be entirely dependent of your facts and circumstances – and the firm’s – you can make the transfer happen if you frame it well and exercise some patience. If you think the grass is greener somewhere else, don’t be afraid to at least ask to transfer offices.
- How to Frame Your Transfer Request
Transferring offices is much easier when you have an offer in hand. If you are looking to make the move after your 2L summer and have already received an offer, you have some leverage. For example, you may have summered in particular office because it offered the best chance to get a full-time job offer.
- Making a Business Case
Now that you have the offer, you may want to try living in a new city, move back home to be close to friends and family, or any multitude of reasons for making a switch. Ideally, you want to have worked for a partner or group in the office where you want to be. Stress the importance of being close to that partner/group when framing your request. Making a “business case” that benefits you and the firm will work in your favor.
While proximity to a particular practice is important, it is perfectly fine to mention family or personal reasons for making the request. You may have a significant other who took an offer in another city.
- Okay to Include Personal Reasons for Transferring
Whatever the reason may be, do not feel obliged to keep your requests strictly tied to the firm. Recruiting partners and HR managers understand that law students are people, too. And if you frame you request in a respectful way, tying it to the firm but also including any personal reasons, powers-that-be may be more willing to accept your request.
- What Not to Do
Make sure you have some reasons and rehearse your pitch to the recruiting partner. Even if you don’t have a particularly compelling business or personal reason, do more than say you want to move to New York for the “energy of the city” or Chicago for the deep dish pizza. Put yourself in the shoes of the decision-makers and think through how they can sell it to their higher-ups.
- So what type of reason does sound good?
Incoming first-year associate is asking to move offices so they can be closer to the capital markets group. They gained experience helping partner X close three deals over the summer and though they expressed interest in general M&A, they could be a better long-term fit in capital markets.
- Respect and Empathy
As always, approach your request with respect and empathy for the folks on the other side of the table. Make it easier on them as they sell the reasons why you want to move, and do what you can to get them to “yes.”