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Your Legal Career Checklist

When was the last time you sat down and reviewed to what extent you are meeting your career objectives?

And I don’t mean your annual review with your line manager; I’m talking about your deeply personal career goals and intentions.

Wherever you are in your career journey, it is a good idea to periodically analyse your current position in light of where you aim to be. When you dig a little deeper, is everything working out as you expected? Or do you need to make some changes in order to stay on track to meeting your goals?

To help you measure if your legal career is progressing as you envisaged when you started out, we have created the following checklist to provide you with a snapshot of where you stand at present career-wise and whether you’re on the right track.

When you work through this checklist, it is essential to bear in mind the reasons you are where you are in the first place.

What did you set out to achieve in your career – and what does doing so look like up to this point? Did you plan on meeting certain financial goals by this stage of your career or have your ambitions been driven by more personal goals?

An equally important point to consider is what you value most about the firm you work for. Do your values fit in with what the firm’s culture prioritises? Is there a synergy present in your working relationships with your colleagues and managers?

If you find that your current role or firm is not providing the satisfaction you had hoped it would, or that the pace of your progress has gradually petered out, then it could be a sign that some important decisions need to be made regarding your career sooner rather than later.

Read each statement below and decide on how much you agree, using the following scale –

1 – Strongly disagree

2 – Disagree

3 – Neutral

4 – Agree

5 – Strongly agree

So, let’s get started!

Career Checklist

1. I am progressing the way I want in my career.

2. I have achieved some of my career goals, and others are within reach.

3. I enjoy my work and look forward to going in each day.

4. The people I work with are very supportive and friendly.

5. I feel like a valued member of the team I work within.

6. My manager gives me the right balance between support/guidance and working under my initiative.

7. I feel I make a difference within the company I work for, rather than just being a number.

8. The company I work for really invests in supporting me to achieve my goals.

9. I can see a clear progression path within my current company.

10. I am happy with the level of training and personal development offered by my current employer.

11. The company I work for believes in me and trusts me to do my job well.

12. I feel that my company enables and supports my focus.

13. I am recognised and rewarded for my work.

14. The sector I work in really interests me.

15. I am happy with the location of and commute to my place of work.

16. I feel my company offer a fair and competitive commission structure (if applicable).

17. The monetary remuneration I receive has enabled me to achieve goals in my personal life (i.e. buy a house, go on my dream holiday, etc.)

18. I feel I have the right work/life balance working for my current company.

19. I am happy with the way my working day is structured.

20. I can see myself staying with this company for a long time.

What Did You Score?

Tally up what you scored and take a look below at some of the points you may want to consider when thinking about how you want your career to progress in the future:

 

20-40

Alarm Bells!

Things aren’t going to plan, and you are probably not enjoying life in your current role. We suggest taking some time to reflect on the possible reasons behind your dissatisfaction and what needs to change to have them resolved. This can be anything from your current workload and position within your team to your working environment and even your practice area.

 

41-60

Room for More

A better score, which suggests there are aspects of your job you enjoy but also a lot of room for improvement. For example, you might like the people you work with, but feel that there is a lack of support present within management to help you meet medium or long-term career goals. You will need to find out if there is any commitment on the part of the management team to implement changes, and assess how concrete said plans for change are. Speak with your manager and outline your concerns as well as what plans they have in this regard. Whatever the outcome of the conversation, you will have either gotten a clearer picture of what your future at the firm looks like or a clear indication that your tenure there has run its course.

 

61-80

Meeting Some Goals

You’re neither happy nor unhappy, though you wouldn’t describe yourself as entirely satisfied. Meaning that if the right opportunity came your way, you would be weighing up your options. Whenever you feel this way it’s important to bear in mind that sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you’re leaning towards a move away from your firm, have a think of why this is your preferred option. What you want to be sure of is that there is no impulsivity driving your decision-making and that an exit is needed because of a bad career move, not a bad day at the office.

 

81+

Loving Life and Your Job

You are achieving your goals, meeting targets and enjoy life where you work. There may be elements of your work life that you feel could be better, but they aren’t big enough of a negative to make you consider working elsewhere. However, we suggest you don’t let complacency set in, as being in your comfort zone for a certain period of time can sometimes lead to that and prove counterproductive to your progress in the long run. If you find that despite being happy with where you are in your career, you haven’t taken any major steps forward in the last year or two, then a fresh challenge could be the jumpstarter you need.

 

Hopefully this checklist has prompted you to think harder about your career goals – and whether or not you are on track to achieve those with your current employer. If the final score however has intimated a change may be afoot, your next wise move is to call on the expertise of a recruitment specialist who can further challenge those thoughts; find out exactly what you are looking for from an employer and uncover the potential reasons you are ready to look at new opportunities in the market.

At Clayton Legal, we have been committed for the past 20 plus years to helping legal professionals build a career they can be proud of, whatever stage of their journey they might be at. If you are at a point where that next step in your legal career is unclear going into the new year, then we can give you the guidance you need to make your start in 2024 the strongest possible one. Give our team a call today on 01772 259 121 or contact us here.

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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How to make the transition to ‘Manager’ in your Legal Role

  • November 11, 2022

All great legal careers need to start somewhere. For most employees, the path to progression begins with an entry-level position. Over time, as you develop your skills and knowledge, you can apply for promotions and higher-paid roles.

After a while in the legal industry you may feel you have the leadership skills, knowledge, and expertise to thrive in a managerial role. A position as a manager can be an excellent way to increase your earning potential, showcase your knowledge, and unlock greater job satisfaction.

However, figuring out how to move into your first legal manager position can be challenging.

Here are some of the top tips you can use to improve your chances of a new leader-level job.

Step 1: Excel in Your Current Role and Do Your Research

To achieve any promotion in the legal landscape, you first need to show your manager how great you are at what you do. Managers need significant expertise and experience in the field they’re going to be supervising. Showing your leaders, you’re a capable, and accomplished member of the team will make them more likely to see your potential as a manager.

While you’re working on demonstrating your value in your current position, it’s worth doing some research. Find out what kind of skills the current managers in your law firm have, and determine whether there are any gaps you’ll need to fill in your own abilities. For example, as a manager you will need a commercial oriented mindset as you will be responsible for generating new business for the firm, and this is especially the case with solicitors and barristers, whose success depends on their ability to secure new clients and their more entrepreneurial approach.

It can also be helpful to look at how your law firm handles internal movement and promotions. Are there certain times of the year when your employer makes decisions about who should be moved into leadership roles? Finding out in advance will help you to decide when to approach your employer about any management opportunities.

Step 2: Develop Your Managerial Skills

There’s more to thriving in a managerial position than being an expert in the legal industry. There’s a good chance you’ll need to develop some crucial new skills to prove you can succeed in a managerial role.

The research you’ve done into the other managers in your law firm should help you to determine which talents matter most to your law firm. However, some of the most common managerial skills you may need to develop include:

Leadership skills: Learn how to motivate, inspire, and engage other employees by taking on the leader position in group tasks and volunteering for opportunities to take charge.
Decision making skills: You’ll need to be able to effectively analyse situations and respond to different scenarios with confidence.
Organisational skills: Demonstrate your organisational skills by ensuring you always meet with deadlines, and deliver punctual work.
Interpersonal skills: Work on your emotional intelligence and communicate regularly with leaders and other colleagues in your law firm.
Problem-solving skills: Show your ability to respond creatively to problems by suggesting solutions to issues in team meetings.

It’s also helpful to invest in your continued education. Earning new certifications and accreditation will demonstrate your expertise in your industry, and help to differentiate you as a potential leader.

Step 3: Show Initiative

Often, proving you’re ready for a legal management job means making sure you take advantage of every opportunity to showcase your expertise and abilities. This means you’re going to need to take initiative if you want to stand out.

Volunteer for tasks a manager might normally do, like taking charge of a team project, or helping your boss with a challenge most people would rather avoid. Rather than waiting for your supervisors to offer you training and development opportunities, seek out your own educational strategies to develop the skills you know are crucial to your law firm.

You can even demonstrate your leadership capabilities outside of your current role, by taking on leadership positions in non-profit organisations, and sharing your volunteering experiences with your company leaders.

Step 4: Ask for the Position

Once you’ve had a chance to demonstrate your abilities, built your skillset and connected with the supervisors in your workplace, it’s time to ask for your new role. Arrange a time to meet with your boss face-to-face or over video so you can discuss your career progression opportunities.

During this meeting, you’ll need to be prepared to explain why you’re ready for this new challenge, and provide as much evidence as possible. Highlighting your recent accomplishments, and drawing attention to the managerial skills you’ve developed will be useful here. If possible, it’s always a good idea to have relationships with other legal managers in your team who can vouch for you.

If your employer doesn’t think you’re ready for a manager role yet, or there isn’t a space available for you to move into, ask what the next step is. Work with your boss to figure out what you need to do to transition into your ideal role.

Step 5: Be Prepared to Switch Law Firms

Finally, if you’re committed to becoming a legal manager, it’s important to be flexible. The reality is, even if you do all the work and prove yourself to your existing employer, there may not be a leadership opportunity available in your current law firm.

Unless your boss is looking for a manager to fill a role after another team member has left, there’s a good chance they won’t be able to find the budget to create a new position just for you. With this in mind, you may need to look elsewhere for your management job.

Work with a legal recruitment agency to track down positions relevant to your expertise and experience. Our team at Clayton Legal will be able to help you find a new legal role that not only offers you the manager responsibilities you want, but the firm culture and benefits you need too.

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.

Click here to speak to one of our experienced Legal specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

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Think you deserve a promotion? Here’s how to get it in five simple steps

  • September 29, 2017

Have you been over performing in your current position, exceeding expectations, and being given glowing reviews by your employer? If the answer is yes, then you may very well be ready for that all important promotion. Clearly, though, the opportunity isn’t going to simply fall into your lap. So how do you get noticed and get that well deserved promotion?

Here are our five top tips.

Set goals:

Setting goals should always be your first step, if you aren’t clear about where you want to go or what you want to achieve you’ll find yourself stuck in the same role. Only once you’ve set yourself goals can you start to work out how to achieve them. Work out the specific position you want and then imagine yourself attending an interview and the kind of questions they might ask. What makes you the right fit for the position? Do you have the appropriate experience? How would you manage the responsibilities? If you aren’t already able to answer these questions then they should provide you with a good indication of what you need to work on.

Why do you deserve the promotion?

Consider exactly why you’re suitable for the new role. If you’ve developed skills beyond the ones required for your current position see how well they align with those required for a more senior role. If they overlap significantly then it’s likely your manager may already be considering you for a step up. Conversely, if your skillsets aren’t yet up to the level required, then make sure to demonstrate that you are proactively taking steps to improve key skills and are committed to continued professional development. The same principle applies for your relevant experience, do you have enough already, or are there new responsibilities you could potentially take on?

Shout about your achievements:

Make sure your manager is aware of your achievements. If you work in a fast paced environment you’ll likely find that smaller successes are brushed to one side fairly quickly, or that your input into team achievements isn’t fully recognised. However, being able to demonstrate your successes and contributions will be key when discussing a potential promotion with your boss, so make sure to document all of them, however minor they may seem.

Get a meeting in the diary:

Schedule a meeting with your boss. While it’s important to formally schedule a consultation with your manager to ensure they understand the importance of the meeting, it’s also vital that you approach the conversation with enquires rather than demands. Let them know that you are keen to receive feedback on your performance and ask about potential opportunities for you to move up. Explain why you want to take on a new role, and demonstrate why you are ready if given the opportunity. However refrain from being pushy – if you come across as demanding you’ll hurt your chances of promotion rather then come any closer to gaining one.

Be realistic:

Be patient and realistic. If there is a role already available it may be that your meeting highlights you as an obvious candidate, however you may find that the reason you haven’t been promoted yet is because there simply isn’t a position open. In which case it’s key that you continue to demonstrate your relevant skillset, enthusiasm and commitment to professional development. You may find that your promotion is just around the corner.

Take a look at some our other blogs to gain some more valuable career advice.

Or take a look at our current roles to find your next game-changing role.

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