Mary Nowell
Mary Nowell
Managing Director: Private Practice

Articles From the Team

Is the race for the top worth the scars on the way up?

At BCL Legal we speak to aspiring lawyers every day. I specialise in recruiting corporate, commercial, employment, property lawyers etc into law firms across the North West. Whether we are speaking to a partner, associate or an assistant the conversation is always; what are you looking to achieve in your next move? The answer is never the same but career progression (which in many cases means job title) is always hot on the agenda. So, how important is ‘progression’ in your next move and should it always be central to your job search? Here are some factors to consider;

- It is a very important to feel challenged in your role. As you develop your skills and experience your CV develops with you. Yes we may all on occasion enjoy the ‘status quo’ but operating entirely within your comfort zone wont push you try new things and ultimately broaden and hone your skills and experience. This ‘development’ can take many guises but it may involve taking on bigger projects, leading client pitches or taking on managerial or budget responsibility. What this looks like to you is an individual thing but feeling challenged is always a big factor in work satisfaction and a key consideration when analysing a potential next move.

- When discussing the next move title is often a big factor in a move, be it maintaining current title or achieving a ‘step up’. Job title’s are a contentious issue and exceptionally subjective. In the legal world titles are even more confusing! Newly qualified solicitor’s join a handful of national firm’s as ‘Associates’; in many firm’s you would start as an Assistant and the expectations and role would be broadly similar. Yes title will give an indicator of seniority, responsibilities, where you sit within the firm’s hierarchy and that will impact how you are perceived external but it’s not the end of the story! Don’t look at title in isolation. The day to day responsibilities, how the role will develop and the ongoing expectations are just (if not more so) important.

- The current team structure may be a big factor to future progression. The legal landscape has changed beyond recognition in the 24 months resulting in ‘new entrants’ where some of the biggest opportunities will exist. Think about who/what structure a team has on the ground already, if you have prioritised progression in your search ask yourself whether that progression route is available to you in the short/medium term. Be honest about where you are in your career, as a junior lawyer perhaps being part of a large structure is key, as you become more experienced and confident perhaps joining a ‘new entrant’ might provide the career development you aspire to.

So back to the title……Is the race for the top worth the scars on the way up? Finding and thriving in a position is never a walk in the park. If you are naturally ambitious and have your heart set on partnership you will undoubtedly encounter frustration, conflict, and long hours! As long as you are constantly re-prioritising and setting achievable goals you will get there in the end. I always advise; not everyone can lead the team. Bide your time, amass good experience and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

For more information please contact Mary Nowell or visit our website BCL Legal.

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