Articles From the Team
Do you know what you really want out of your career?
I spend a lot of time helping lawyers work out what they actually want from their career. Having been a legal recruiter for 17 years I have helped a whole host of individuals during various stages of their life and career.
A couple of recent conversations have led me to write the following thoughts down on paper:
1. If you are a senior private practice lawyer looking for a move in-house don’t over think it. Why do I say this? If you have decided that at 15 years PQE (or more) that you want to make the move in-house you are going to find it tough. Reasons being that senior roles don’t come up every day (in the regions especially) and when they do I would suggest that the majority of roles at this level go to lawyers who already have in-house experience.
Therefore, if you do get the opportunity to go for an in-house role and it feels like a side ways move (maybe it is not Head of Legal but senior associate level) as long as the pay is applicable I would suggest you go for it. No matter what level you start at in-house there are often stepping stones required to move up the career ladder. If you are not lucky enough to make the move immediately to the top position, take a role that opens the door to learning about being an in-house lawyer and when the time is right then look to move to that ‘head of’ position. I can think of many lawyers over the years who have communicated that they would only be interested in the top job... and guess what… they are still waiting to be picked for that position.
2. Understand what the next step up in role means for you. If you are in private practice and being offered partnership this will likely come with more of an emphasis on bringing in new business. I have spoken to numerous lawyers over the years who have wanted the badge (and felt they had to go for partnership) only to find the ‘rainmaker’ element of the role outside of their comfort zone. This often leads to a negative outcome.
Much better to understand what you enjoy doing and what you are good at and stick at that than follow a path that you feel is expected of you only to find miserable times ahead. The same can be said for management positions – if you don’t enjoy managing... don’t put yourself in a position to be a manager!
3. Following on from point 2… if you don’t think partnership is for you, work out what you are going to focus on instead. Many law firms have other avenues available and of course there is the world of in-house. Over the past few years I have been surprised (and impressed) by the number of junior lawyers who are in top class law firms who very early in their career have worked out what they want (or don’t want) from their law career and come to me with an action plan. The earlier you know what you might want from your career, make the changes required to help you make this happen. The longer you leave it the harder it becomes.
4. Be honest with yourself. Why haven’t you got a promotion when others around you have? Why has your salary stagnated? Why have others progressed whilst you haven’t? What do you enjoy about being a lawyer/ not? What are you good at/ not? What motivates you? The list goes on and on.
To help you find the right role/ opportunity we will ask you these questions – it definitely helps us to help you if you have already thought about them yourselves (and been honest with yourself as to what the true answers might be!)