Quitting Your Law Job? How to Leave a Lasting Impression

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on September 11, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Quitting a legal job usually requires some finesse. In general, you'll want to give your employer ample notice, and you don't want to burn any bridges.

Then again, we can think of a few rare instances when you may just want to tell your boss to "take this job and shove it."

We're not here to advise you which route is best. But if you're hoping to leave a lasting impression when you quit, some pop-culture examples may come in handy.

Here are five memorable ways others have quit their jobs, in fiction and in real life:

  1. The "heat of passion" quitting. The famous quitting scene in "Jerry Maguire" comes to mind, as does JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater's famous career-ending escape via a plane's emergency slide. But as lawyers know, "heat of passion" can lead to some pretty bad decision-making that can come with unintended consequences -- such as Slater's subsequent arrest for criminal mischief.
  2. The "humiliating" quitting. An embarrassing incident at an office party may warrant a hasty exit, from both the party and your law firm. But depending on the alleged embarrassment -- be it a pirate costume like in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" or jerky dancing like Elaine in "Seinfeld" -- you may want to check with coworkers to see if it was really that bad, before you jump into the ranks of the unemployed.
  3. The "making a scene" quitting. "Seinfeld's" George Costanza called this "showmanship" or "going out on a high note" -- the trick being, to not overstay your welcome. The lesson for lawyers: You'll make a more positive impression if you leave while the going is good, not when your ship is sinking.
  4. The "memorable line" quitting. All of the quitting scenarios above can incorporate a memorable line -- though Jerry Maguire's "Who's coming with me?" may not be the best example. For lawyers looking for a memorable line, a pithy law-related quote or joke may just get you the attention you're seeking.
  5. The "ethical" quitting. Ethics, of course, are a big deal for lawyers. So when your conscience calls on you to quit, you should do so with your head held high. If the ethical issue was particularly egregious, you may want to let others know why you're quitting -- who knows, they may just join you, making for the most lasting impression of all.

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