Counter-Offers – Better the Devil you know?

June 26, 2015

2015 has been an exciting year for legal professionals – here at CapeClarke, we’ve seen legal practices show an increased appetite for sourcing legal talent externally. As a logical result of this, we’ve also noted a marked increase in the number of counter-offers being made to candidates, with the words “What are they offering you?” I’ll have a word with the Board” almost becoming an adage of certain private practice firms.

Each of us react to counter-offers in different ways, depending on a wide variety of factors – from the details of the actual counter offer and the way in which it is delivered, to the time spent at the practice and whether its future ambitions line up with our own. What is certain is the fact that counter-offers are becoming an increasingly important part of the recruitment process and that you will very likely be exposed to them in your legal career (if you haven’t already). As such, we would strongly suggest that you read on in an attempt to really understand the thought process behind Counter-Offers.

Is your Firm throwing Money at you?

A firm’s initial reaction to such a situation is often to offer the person in question one or more of the following things: more money, more responsibility and promises of rosy future prospects. Whilst any one of these would be welcome in the normal course of business, ask yourself whether they would have a real impact on your initial reasons for leaving.

Money may make the world go round but what it fails to do is address real, deep-seated issues within working environments. If your firm is throwing money at you then it is either doing so because it thinks that you can easily be bought back or, more likely, it cannot effectively solve the issues that have pushed you towards the exit in the first place.

Also, be sure to bear in mind that, in our experience, those who accept a counter-offer at their current firm will leave in any case – the majority of which before a year is up.

Follow the Ostrich?

You are only as good as your word. Reneging on a much sought offer to instead accept a counter-offer can certainly be seen as the “easy option”. Indeed, you may emulate a figurative ostrich – you could just accept a pay rise at your current firm, stick your head in the sand and emerge unscathed a couple of months later. It’s important to note that ostriches are at their most vulnerable when adopting such as a stance – as you would be too. Your reputation, for one, will certainly not be left untouched. Your loyalty will inevitably be questioned in the future and colleagues may view you as that person who had the chance to move on to bigger and better things but, for want of a better phrase, “bottled it”.

The firm that made you that fantastic offer won’t easily forget how quickly all that “enthusiasm” and “passion” dissipated in the wake of an extra several thousand pounds. What’s more, your CURRENT firm certainly won’t forget the fact that you handed your notice in – what’s to say you won’t do that again? You will almost inevitably be ear-marked as a “quitter” and this perceived disloyalty may hamper your future progression.

Does a Counter Offer really mean that your firm value you?

In that case, why has it taken an external job offer for them to realise? Do you really want to remain within a firm that has to potentially lose you, to appease you? Remember: your employer charmed you with progression, pay rises and improved conditions. But only when you threatened to leave.

So, still tempted to stay?

Here at CapeClarke, we have an unparalleled record of helping candidates make the right move at various stages of their legal career. In our experience, the overwhelming majority of those candidates who stood their ground, refused to be swayed by an internal counter-offer and subsequently moved firms have not regretted it.

When you analyse the commentary set out above, it’s easy to see why!



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