The Law Dictionary

Your Free Online Legal Dictionary • Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed.

How to Write a Resignation Letter like a Lawyer

When it comes to writing a resignation letter, we all know how important it is to provide sufficient notice, make sure our grammar and spelling are correct, and state when our resignation will take force. What many people overlook, however, is that there are also important legal considerations to keep in mind when handing in a resignation letter. An improperly drafted resignation letter could spell trouble for future lawsuits or it might put in jeopardy benefits that you are otherwise entitled to. Regardless of your job, you need to learn how to write a resignation letter… like a lawyer!

Resignation or termination?

The first thing to work out is whether you are really resigning or actually being forced from your job. Your boss may have told you you are being let go, for example, but nonetheless gives you the “opportunity” to write a resignation letter so that you can tell future employers that you resigned instead of getting fired. However, by resigning and not allowing your employer to let you go, you may make it difficult if not impossible to qualify for severance pay or unemployment benefits.

Give the required notice

Most employment contracts state what notice period is required when an employee resigns or his or her position is terminated. Make sure you read your employment contract and respect the notice period. By failing to respect the notice period, you could be considered in breach of your employment contract, which could expose you to a lawsuit by your employer. In many cases, even if you provide enough notice, the employer will ask you to leave the premises immediately so that neither of you will have to deal with the awkward situation of continuing to work together when you both know that you’ll be leaving soon.

Brevity is key

Your resignation letter should not be longer than is necessary. In fact, brevity may help you in the long run by reducing your legal exposure. Only include the items that are necessary for the resignation letter to be effective, such as when your resignation will take effect, when company property in your possession will be returned, and if any salary or benefits are due to you. In most cases, outlining why you are resigning is unnecessary and a bad idea, since it could eventually be used against you if your employer claims you are in breach of contract.

When writing a resignation letter, you want to make sure that you are not unintentionally exposing yourself to possible legal action. A resignation letter is an important document and before handing one in to your employer, you should check with an employment law attorney to ensure that your rights are being protected.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Recent Employment & Labor Law Articles