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The 5 Big Legal Career Mistakes You Are Probably Making

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

Everybody makes mistakes. It doesn't matter if you're a solicitor with years of experience in your field, or a graduate paralegal joining a team for the first time. Mistakes happen. A small misstep is a positive learning opportunity, particularly if you approach it with the right attitude.

However, there's a difference between small oversights, and miscalculations that wreck your reputation, harm your career plan and leave you struggling to achieve your goals. Here are 5 common career mistakes that we constantly see as a legal recruitment specialist.

 

1. Thinking Your Career Progression Has To Be Linear

These days, terms like ‘job hopping’ have a bad reputation. However, there's nothing wrong with moving to a different law firm if you can't follow your career goals with your current employer.

When you look at the career plans of successful people around the world, you'll see thousands of entrepreneurs, executives and legal professionals who got to where they are today not by ‘climbing the ladder’, but by developing their skills and pursuing opportunities where they could find them.

Countless legal professionals stick by the same firm for years, hoping for a promotion that might never happen. However, sometimes finding the right role means looking in a different direction. Don't let your loyalty stop you from reaching your true potential.

2. Struggling With ‘Shiny Object’ Syndrome

While there’s definitely something to be said for self-advocacy and seeking challenge and advancement, it’s equally important to ensure that you’ve carefully explored your potential at your current firm before seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Although it's essential to make sure that you're being paid what you're worth and developed to your full potential, you want to avoid falling victim to shiny object syndrome. It can be tempting to say ‘yes’ to a new job just because it sounds interesting or looks promising on the surface.

However, before you commit to changing your career path, it's worth doing your research and finding out whether your new position fits into your plan for long-term success, as well as making sure you’ve done all you can to achieve your career goals at your current law firm.

Evaluate each potential job change carefully and turn to your recruitment agency for help if you need extra support. Remember, it's not just about getting ‘new’ opportunities; it's about finding the right ones that match your skills and interests.

3. Failing To Improve Your Skills

When you've got a great job with a competitive remuneration package, you might decide that it's time to sit back, relax and reap the rewards of a successful recruitment journey. However, the most successful people know that there is no ‘finish line’ in their career plan. There are always new opportunities out there for growth and development.

To avoid being stuck in a rut, it’s necessary to work on developing your skills as well as acquiring new ones. If your employer can't provide you with opportunities to build on your skills, then create your own. Look for networking events or professional development offerings related to your field and keep up-to-date on the latest sector trends.

The more you grow your professional skills and knowledge, the more you open yourself up to better positions, bigger promotions, and a more satisfying and successful legal career.

4. Letting Fear of Failure Hold You Back

Sometimes, if you want to accomplish great things, you need to take chances.

The most inspiring leaders in the world right now didn't accomplish their goals by sticking to career choices they felt were safe. There's nothing wrong with trying out a short-term role, signing up for an apprenticeship, or working part-time to find the position that's right for you. If your experiments don't work out, you can at least learn something from them.

Challenging yourself to take on new projects and try different things will impress the colleagues in your law firm, even if you don't always succeed in your goals. What's more, every failure is a chance to learn and grow in your field.

One of the main ways that fear of failure holds people back is by convincing them to stay in a position where they're under-challenged, which means that they’re in a role that doesn’t utilise their skills or talents. Working with a specialist recruitment agency like Clayton Legal will help to ensure that you find the right position that makes the most of your abilities.

5. Forgetting to Network

Finally, although many people dislike networking, it is the most effective way to open yourself up to new opportunities and increase the value of your personal brand.

While it can be easy to become complacent and stop networking once you have a full-time role, continuously building your professional social sphere and making new connections in your field is a great way to advance your legal career. The more you network, the more you'll learn about new job opportunities, professional development, and you may even find a mentor for your career plan.

Networking not only helps to develop your personal brand; it can also give weight to your application when you apply for competitive roles. Sometimes, ‘who’ you know really is just as important as ‘what you know’. Growing your network not only makes you a more valued legal professional at your firm; it will increase your chances of being noticed by other law firms, as well.

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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