A month or so ago the law firm I have been contracting with approached me about joining their firm as an employee rather than a contractor. I really like the work, the people, the environment, and they are within walking distance of my home. However, I am also building a small business and am somewhat reluctant to give up my freedom of movement for even a flexible part-time job that comes with employee status.

They presented their offer in our monthly state-of-the-firm meeting. It’s a good offer, and even a few months ago I would have accepted it without any alteration or adjustment. Things are/were different then, though, and I asked for a week or more to consider it in light of other aspects of my life. They agreed.

A week later (we are now mid-November) and I was still not sure. But we are all adultier-adults in this realm and sat down and talked about it. This time they went back to huddle and sharpen their pencils to consider the various options available.

My plan up until this point has been to continue with my prior full-time job until December 1, when the new health insurance went into effect. But then I realized that by walking away before Janaury, I was leave 3% retirement plan match sitting on the table. In the bigger picture it’s relatively small cakes, but I have worked at this firm throughout 2015 and have steadily contributed to max out my retirement contribution. I feel entitled to and deserving of that 3% match, only I would have to stick around to ensure it was funded, which could extend my tenure through March.

I doubt that contribution match is worth another 3 months of working like a madder-than-typical madwoman.

I have been making it work with the hours I spend there, the hours I allot to the law firm, and the hours I spend working on all my other in-progress projects. M is now my employee doing data entry and other things I have trained him to do to help with my workload and stressure levels. It’s working out for us, and my little fledgling business is cruising right along.

That said, December 31 I have a few projects ending and January 1 new projects beginning (it’s a funding and budgetary issue for a couple of my clients) as well as a few other irons in the fire that are signing contracts and expecting me to start working in January.

I feel constrained by the idea of being employed by 2 different firms with expectations of seeing me during regular business hours on some sort of schedule. Believe me they are extraordinarily flexible about my time and my schedule and the work IS getting done and when they (either firm) needs me for something I make it work. I just had this thought that my time would be even more my own once I cut myself off from employee status at my prior FT firm.

Before they returned to their drawing board with sharpened pencils to see if they could work with me on my employee conundrum I was already thinking about the advantages such an arrangement offers me. They do something rather outlandish these days – their benefit allowance is generous and for M and I it covers all but about $20/month for the insurance we just switched to as well as dental and vision. I could also participate in their retirement plan and its matching contributions and be part of their bonus program – all huge pluses.

They came back just before Thanksgiving with a sweetened offer. Understanding my reluctance to abandon my self-employment job, they offered me a little better compensation, some additional paid time off, peak flexibility and willingness to work with me for a few months and my own business on an ongoing basis. Being treated as a professional is such a refreshing concept! With how much I respect and enjoy working with the partners and the rest of the firm as a whole, I feel a little (okay, a LOT) crazy to not just sign my offer letter and plan to be their newest staff member come January 1. And when I stack it up and do my list of pros and cons and compare the two firms … this opportunity is worth so much more than a few grand added to my retirement account. I should leave mid-January and not worry about the additional retirement funds.

Or so says the practical business professional. The emotional, less rational side resents the leaving cash on the barrelhead, especially in light of what I have put up with and dealt with through the years.

But in this case my rational business professional side wins, hands down, and the matter has been decided. My new strategy is to give notice first day back in January and plan my last day to be January 15. I’ll see them through the end of the year and closing of the books, but after that they will either be hiring me as a contractor or hiring someone else.

I signed the offer letter and when I turn it in later today it is a done deal. And I feel so much happier with that weight off my heart.


6 thoughts on “Opportunity knocking

  1. Excellent decision! BTW – if this is a 2015 contribution match – it shouldn’t be left on the table at all if you have met the conditions- they are legally obligated to make the contribution and if they fail to I’m sure a nice business letter from you reminding them to make it will be effective. Congrats on how well things are working out and on the benefits issue – that is HUGE!!!

    1. Yes, I know it’s against the law but these owners are vindictive that way. My best bet is to ensure the CPA knows and pushes the issues if I am not around to ensure the distributions are handled properly.

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