It is important to distinguish yourself among colleagues in your firm, especially for attorneys seeking to advance their careers. Given the competitive nature of the industry, building networks and collaborating is part of the recipe to advance within your organization, but is there more?
As the legal industry continues to transform at a rapid rate, now more than ever, attorneys need to stretch themselves to advance in their career. Here are a few suggestions to help establish your path to success.
First and foremost, it is important to have a master plan. Create a timeline for career benchmarks and set realistic timelines to monitor your progress. Your plan may include:
- Short-term goals (one to two years)
- Medium-term goals (three to five years)
- Long-term goals (10+ years)
Some short-term goals may include establishing relationships with at least three to five senior associates or partners within your firm. Reach outside your firm by participating in industry networking opportunities. Take initiative to learn new skills and programs; asking questions is a good thing. Small steps of engagement can provide the confidence and familiarity to build the required skills for higher level assignments.
Medium-term goals can include client development and networking, building leadership skills by mentoring a junior associate, or take initiative and discuss with the partners opportunities to engage in higher level work within your practice area.
When designing your long-term goals, the seminal question that needs to be asked is what is the path to partnership, and is that a path I want to travel? It is not uncommon during the course of your career to consider lateral opportunities, in house positions or alternative career paths within your firm.
Planning your career requires ongoing monitoring of your progress and reevaluating your goals. It is not meant to be a blueprint you create and set aside. You can and should revise it as needed, consulting it frequently but tweaking it as your interests change. It is not meant to be prescriptive, rather it should provide you with some basic sense of purpose.
Get a Mentor
Having a mentor who can guide you along your career path is an invaluable relationship. Someone who has been through similar challenges, and who has experienced the highs and lows of practicing law can provide relevant career advice.
It’s important to find someone who can help you develop your legal skills, and help you navigate political and institutional hurdles. It may take some effort in identifying the ideal mentor, but don’t settle for someone who may not be the right fit. A good mentor can provide good insight and perspective on the internal dynamics within a firm and can anticipate potential blind spots.
Ultimately, promotions aren’t going to be given to you; they must be earned. That may require volunteering for additional responsibilities and seeking leadership opportunities within and outside your firm.
The way to stand out and brand yourself is by meeting people. Get to know the individuals in your office. Take them up on invitations to socialize during non-working hours. Sign up for professional conferences and networking events, and become involved in local legal organizations—often, that’s the best way to build out your professional network.
Hire a Coach
Coaching is a great way to raise your self-awareness, focus on emotional intelligence, prioritize goals and challenges, and elevate your leadership skills. With the guidance of an executive coach, you can develop your interpersonal strengths to complement your already established intellectual expertise. At Loeb Leadership Development Group, our coaching services are designed for attorneys and legal industry professionals who are ready to be the best they can be. Let’s talk today about your goals; reach out to Loeb now!