The Conundrum of the Counter-offer

June 16, 2014

Congratulations!  You have made it through the interview process and you have been offered the job.  You have verbally accepted and then followed it up by returning to your new employer the signed offer documentation.  Now all you have to do is hand your notice in… easy!  Well, not quite…

Ordinarily, your current employer will begrudgingly accept your resignation or may even try to talk you in to staying.  Promises of promotion – “future of the firm” is often banded about – and talk of being integral to the team are common.  In reality, this rarely sways solicitors with a better offer in their hands.  What does cause a moment of contemplation, however, is a counter-offer to match your new, improved salary!

Counter-offers are often flattering – it does, indeed, show you that the firm values your contribution.  It is also a lot smoother to stay at a firm where you feel comfortable.  It is, indeed, the easy option.  However, there are a number of considerations you have to take into account:

1.  You have accepted a role at another firm that you have happily proceeded with throughout the interview process – you will, at best, strain your relationship with the firm and the partners and, at worst, completely destroy it, ending any chance of you working at the firm again.  Also bear in mind what happens if those partners move on to other firms… you could end up alienating a number of firms within the city.

2.  Why did the firm not pay you that amount in the first place?  Clearly you are worth it and yet you have had to go through the process of interviewing elsewhere to get what you deserve.  This also allows your current employer to think this is acceptable as opposed to paying their staff appropriately.

3.  Any pay rise will usually be negated by a lack of, or smaller, pay rise next year – law firms have to maintain certain pay structures and you will inevitably be brought back into line.

4.  Other considerations you had for wanting to leave (presuming it was not just about money) will still be there 6 months down the line and you will realise fundamentally that nothing has changed (other than pay).

5.  You have indicated to your current employer that you have seriously thought about leaving.  Your loyalty to the firm has been called into question and you are not necessarily regarded in the same light when it comes to pushing on with your career.

As discussed, there are some very serious ramifications to reneging on an offer from another firm and you should seriously consider these before doing so.  In reality, you need to decide before the offer stage whether you would accept the new role (so long as the offer makes sense) and then stick to your guns.  You do not want the reputation of someone using offers to get pay rises.

CapeClarke offers a fully consultative approach and we will guide you through the interview and offer process and advise as to conduct with your current and new employers.

Getting a new job is an exciting time and a new chapter in your life – enjoy it!


If you would like to discuss this blog, have been thinking about a move or would just like some general advice about options in the market, please feel free to contact Terry Cape or Chris Clarke on 0113 2385965.

CapeClarke is a leading niche legal recruitment consultancy operating across Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Liverpool and London. Please feel free to check out our priority legal vacancies by clicking here.  Please note these legal vacancies are only a small selection of those we have been instructed on, so please get in touch if you do not see a role which looks suitable.


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