Community Perspectives: Anyone ever leave a job and come back soon after? What was that like for you and your coworkers?

In-house legal professionals discuss the experience of leaving a job and coming back to it soon afterwards.

Community Perspectives: Anyone ever leave a job and come back soon after? What was that like for you and your coworkers?

(Author) Senior Counsel

Anyone ever leave a job and come back within a few weeks? If so, do you regret it? Were people excited you were back or did you get the cold shoulder? I’m in a situation where I was basically sold a lie and now I’m distrustful of the new employer. The amount of support in the legal department (as in the number of people on my team) is lower than I was led to believe. As a result, my workload will necessarily multiply. 

I was actually happy at my prior job, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Had I known then what I know now, I would have never accepted. Naturally, I’m regretting my decision and I’m hopeful I could have my old job back. Thoughts? Experiences?

Counsel Response:

  • I did! I left my firm to go in-house to a company and an opportunity I thought was too good to pass up. I hated it and just started back at the firm. If you left your previous job on good terms, there’s no awkwardness and peoplel are generally happy to have someone good back. I was gone for 18 months. I would’ve been back earlier but there were some administrative hurdles. About one year into the new job I was 100% sure it wasn’t for me, so I reached out to my mentor at the firm asking for a convo and basically just said the new gig isn’t working for me and I’d like to come back. They needed the extra support so it was a win-win.
  • I haven’t done this but a few people at my company have. We’ve never brought someone back that we weren’t happy to see, so I feel that if you got an offer to return that’s a good sign that things won't be too awkward. I think it also helps if the new job you left for was something different than your old job. I work with scientists and engineers in government defense who sometimes want to try something else, so usually no hard feelings if they come back (sometimes months, sometimes years later).

Attorney and Associate Responses:

  • I know a woman who left for a few weeks to go to another job, hated it, and came back. None of the associates wanted her back (she was a terrible co-worker) but the partners brought her in despite asking for input. She was dinged a class year but ended up making partner anyways. It was unnecessarily punitive and over the top for only a couple of weeks.
  • I did. Left one firm to go to another, and then came back 6 months later. I was a 2nd year. It was awkward for about a month and then I busted my ass to bring in my own work and everyone sort of forgot about me having left.
  • I know someone who did it three times and everyone thinks she’s a joke.

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