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3 Big Career Mistakes Solicitors Make

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick
As a legal professional, you know that mistakes in business happen. It could be the big deal with a project that doesn’t go as planned or a legal case that doesn’t go your way. These are the sort of mistakes that can be addressed and rectified to a greater or lesser extent. You can learn from them and move forward.

The problem with career mistakes is that they creep up so slowly it's likely you won’t even notice they are there until they’ve taken root.

It’s crucial to know how to deal with the career mistakes that so many solicitors like yourself make. Not addressed, they can impact your general happiness and sense of unfulfillment in your legal work, as well as affecting your quality of life in general.

Here are the three main career mistakes to watch out for and tips on how to overcome them.


Fear of Failure

It’s easy to take the familiar route, the path more travelled, and where you feel most comfortable.

But comfort can slip into coasting without you noticing.

Then one day you realise you are bored at work, or dreading Mondays. Your work can suffer as a result of your lack of motivation and enthusiasm, and colleagues start to notice you’re not your usual self, or ‘on your game’.

You know inside, deep down, that you’re disinterested in your job and should think about moving to a new role or challenge, but you’re stuck in a comfort zone. Your salary is good, and it’s easier to do nothing than branch out – and risk failing.

If you’re not engaged with your current job, it’s worth identifying what’s behind the dissatisfaction and lack of motivation.

Ask yourself how fulfilled you are in your work on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being totally unfulfilled.

Has your income stagnated because you’re not engaged and motivated? Is being unhappy with your law firm impacting on your private life?

You spend nearly one-third of your life at work, on average. So, it's crucial that you enjoy it. If you find yourself scoring low on your current job satisfaction, finding it hard to move to the next level of seniority within your law firm, and just not enjoying what you do - it’s time to ask the big question.

Should you stay, or should you go?

You have two options to consider. The first is to address what’s making you unhappy at work and seek to improve it. It could be negotiating flexible hours to improve your work-life balance. It could be requesting training to upskill yourself so you can meet future challenges head-on. Or it may just be a case of re-engaging with the job, your legal clients and colleagues.

The second option is to get a game plan in place for your escape.

If you can’t see a future in your current role, don’t be so afraid of failure that you feel you can’t move. See it as an opportunity to try something new.

A specialised legal recruiter can talk to you about your aspirations, hopes and ideal scenarios and help you find a legal role where you will be more fulfilled.

So, put fear of failure aside and never be afraid to leave your comfort zone behind. It could be the best career move you make.

One of my favourite quotes is from Mark Twain, who said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


Losing Connections

After a while, working in the same place and doing the same job, it’s not uncommon for many solicitors to give up networking. It’s easy to think it doesn’t matter anymore. After all, you’ve got the position you wanted; you already know the people you need to know. What’s the point in investing time and energy into developing your network further?

The problem with failing to maintain and increase your network is that you are limiting yourself to those people you have regular contact with; you’re missing out on the chance to meet new people and connect with important influences outside your law firm.

Failure to build your network and invest in relationships could see you missing out on opportunities. That new person you meet could be the one who changes your life!

Without new connections, your old network will eventually dry up, and there will be fewer people to turn to when you need help or advice, and fewer who will think of you when opportunities are there.

So, no matter where you are in your career, keep those networks going. Seek out professional relationships with colleagues and peers. Commit to meeting several new people each month, whether at a seminar, workshop, meeting or other event.

You could consider a mentor too. Mentors provide several positives. They teach you how to adapt, so you remain an asset to your law firm; you’ll have someone to share concerns with and who’s got your back. They can also help you plot your career path and spot personal development opportunities.


Not Fulfilling Your Potential

If you’re comfortable with things just the way they are, you’re in danger of stagnating and becoming out of date in your skillset.

Or perhaps you have been hopeful of achieving Partner in your law firm and it hasn’t happened. You may feel jaded and overlooked, and have become apathetic to chances to upskill.

The mistaken belief that your current knowledge will carry you through could see you out of a job if you refuse to acknowledge that you need to grow professionally and embrace lifelong learning.

Complacency will see you fall behind in skills and ability, and others will overtake you on the career ladder.

Not believing in yourself is a common mistake made by solicitors.

No matter how you feel inside, project an air of confidence and sound assured when you make decisions. If you don’t, others will stop believing in you too.

So, stay curious. Listen to podcasts on legal matters, keep up with the latest legal news and trends, read journals. Stay on top of change and development. Take up offers of training and development, whatever stage you are at in your career.

You may also wish to consider updating and developing your personal brand. Look at your online profile and ensure it's current and accurate. Involve yourself in events and seminars and strive to become known as the ‘go-to’ person for advice on your specialist legal area.

Be sure your skills are current and invest in yourself by upskilling wherever there is an opportunity to do so – that way, you’ll be able to adapt to change and future proof yourself in your role.

I hope this article will help you avoid the common pitfalls made by many solicitors. If any of these mistakes resonate with you, it’s time to change the way you work.

Start today.


Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move in your legal career, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.



Thanks

Lynn


About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.
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