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office transfers

When is the best time to ask for a transfer? Is it frowned upon or presumptuous to ask for a transfer in your first year or is it better to wait until you are a senior? What is proper etiquette in this situation? Also, what are your thoughts on transferring from a large office and a large market to a small office and smaller market? Any benefits or drawbacks?

I'd say the best time is after your first year as a senior associate. This way you have some leverage in that there are always offices looking for senior associates. You can always try planting the seeds for a transfer after a year, but it might be hard since it all comes down to supply and demand. Most offices have enough staff associates, but are lacking when it comes to senior associates and above.
From a process standpoint, talk to your mentor/advisor first, then build a business case prior to going to HR. Don't just go to HR asking for a transfer because you want to move to a different city. I mean, that's fine, but if you have a solid case (significant other, family, etc.), that will help your case.
W/ regards to transferring to a small office from a large office, following are disadvantages i can think of - a) fewer clients b) fewer jobs offered by recruiters c) less flexibility when it comes to rotation opportunities d) less partner spots if you plan on staying long term. Following are advantages i can think of - a) you get to know everyone in the office, including the partners b) more camaraderie c) possibly fewer uncertainties when it comes to schedules since you have fewer clients.
At the end of the day, if you really want to transfer, just do everything you can to make it happen. Otherwise you will always regret it.


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