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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 Important Is Your Personal Brand As A Legal Professional?

  • June 13, 2023

If you want to succeed in your legal career, cultivating a personal brand is paramount. 

An impressive personal brand doesn’t just signal to your leaders and senior colleagues that you’re someone on the way up; the very process of working on your personal brand also makes you more self-aware, more knowledgeable, and more disciplined, making you a clear choice for promotion. 

A recent article in Legal Desire also states that a cultivated and well-honed personal brand is also needed to stand out in ‘the sea of legal knowledge’ – giving you competitive advantage and aiding things like client acquisition, business development, and influencing stakeholders. 

Put simply, it can help to elevate your professional standing, gain trust and build a positive reputation within your own firm and wider network, that will almost certainly support your long-term career ambitions. 

With this in mind, we’ve outlined the key strategies you need to be implementing when looking to build a successful personal brand as a legal professional. 

 

Identify Your Strengths, Your Talents, & How You Can Use Them

 The first step is figuring out where your talents and strengths lie. Take the time to understand what sets you apart and focus on letting that shine through your personal brand. Do you have traits that make you particularly collaborative, inspirational or transformational? Furthermore, what particular special skills do you have that will be attractive to businesses when you become a leader? Do you have a large network? Are you particularly IT savvy, or are you good at digital strategy? Once you’ve established what your personal brand’s strengths are, you’ll need to match them with your firm’s culture and business needs. When you have a clear idea of how your skills and style match the firm’s goals, you can develop them further and work on your ‘pitch’ for promotion. In considering how you might best implement your talents, think about becoming ‘the person who helps.’ Certain people can influence the success of your promotion attempt—the most obvious being your direct manager. Consider how you can help that person in their role right now so that you are then perceived as an individual who really does add value.  

Additionally, consider how you can help others in your team, as these people may well be consulted when it’s promotion time, and the more friends you have ‘on your side,’ the better. 

 

Smarten Up Your Online Presence

Nothing will diminish your professional power as much as an unprofessional online presence. Those rowdy Facebook pictures need to be managed—either be exceedingly careful with your privacy settings, change your profile name to a nickname, or get rid of Facebook altogether.  

It can be useful to conduct an audit of your online presence by Googling yourself and doing damage control on anything that might be viewed as unprofessional by senior leaders at your firm. 

 Replace any unsuitable pictures with well-taken, professional headshots and update your LinkedIn profile, so it reflects your values, ambitions and how you’d like people to think about you. You could also join some relevant online groups that might prove professionally advantageous. Consider sharing your thoughts, passions and achievements on a website of your own, if you have something to say that builds your professional credibility. 

 

Make Time To Network

Spend as much time as you can networking with competent and respected legal professionals in your field; the more connections you build with relevant people in your field, the more your reputation will grow. Not having confidence when it comes to networking – either face-to-face or virtually, is common – whatever profession you in. However, it is certainly a skill worth honing as the benefits far outweigh that initial feeling or awkwardness or anxiety. Being visible at events that are relevant to your specialism or indeed mean something to you on a personal level all impact your personal brand and others perception of you (and what is important to you) – so do take advantage of opportunities that come your way.Add Value To That Network 

Whilst it may very much depend on your employer as to how comfortable they are with you posting on social media channels, using your knowledge and expertise in your practice area to create useful content will further set you apart as a thought-leader. You may choose to write a blog, create a LinkedIn newsletter, or simply be an active ‘voice’ in online discussions on topics that interest you – in a professional sense of course.  It goes without saying that you want to be mindful of jumping of any particularly controversial topics. 

Digital agency owner, Lara Acosta, writing recently for Forbes talks candidly about the various strategies she employed to grow an engaged following of 55k individuals on LinkedIn, stating that contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean ‘oversharing’. Rather, look at the six main components of content marketing: inspire, entertain, educate, promote, empower and validate – and choose one or several of those, and stick to them.  This element of personal branding is very much focused on relationship building, being ‘seen’, adding value, and then being discovered by association – to benefit things like business development, or professional development impacting your career. 

 

Increase Your Value Through Continued Education

One of the most crucial things to remember about your personal brand is that it’s continually evolving. As the legal sector evolves with new technology and trends, it’s up to you to make sure that you’re staying ahead of the curve if you want to stand out in your legal career. 

A continued commitment to education and keeping up to date with the current trends will make sure that you’re always building a relevant personal brand. Part of your training might include soft skills development, like working on your teamwork or communication strategies. Other times, you’ll need to evaluate your technical skills and decide whether they’re starting to go out of date.  

A great way to make sure that you’re on track is to compare your CV to the job listings relevant to your interests. You’ll notice if specific requirements in those specs begin to change over time. For instance, most firms are now looking for legal professionals with good specialist knowledge and the ability to demonstrate a deep understanding of their client’s businesses. 

 Ongoing education will simultaneously keep your personal brand up-to-date and show both your current and potential employers that you’re committed to your legal career. An employee (or potential candidate) who is always on the lookout for upcoming and signing up to attend seminars and networking events will add significantly more value to his professional profile than someone who shows very little interest in actively developing their legal career. 

 

Ask Where You Need Development

Sometimes, there might be a behaviour or skill gap you exhibit that is barring your way to promotion, and yet you may not even be aware of it. For example, you might be brilliant at managing multiple caseloads as a commercial property solicitor, but lack the necessary interpersonal skills required to effectively interview, advise or negotiate with clients or other professionals to secure agreed objectives. 

Another consideration is that the leadership in your law firm might not even be aware that you want a promotion because you’ve never told them. Take an opportunity to sit down with them – perhaps at your next performance appraisal – and make your goals and ambitions clear. In stating your case, make sure that you ask them what they believe you could work on to achieve your goals. Be welcoming of any feedback – no matter how uncomfortable – and then start working on a plan to develop yourself (and your brand) accordingly. Your manager will also walk away from the meeting clear on your ambitions and will be able to advise you on the steps you’ll need to take to help you move towards your stated goals. 

 The potential that lies in a well-built personal brand is immense and the only limits to it are really your own imagination and willingness to grow. We hope these strategies have given you some food for thought and perhaps set you on the right path toward achieving your career goals. 

 

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.

 

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The 6 Reasons Why Your Personal Brand as a Legal Professional is Failing (And How to Rectify It)

  • November 5, 2019

As a legal professional, you take your career seriously.

You may well already have a personal brand that you’ve spent time developing. Mapping it out will have made you more self-aware and knowledgeable, as well as signalling to Senior Partners and Managers that you are the ideal candidate for the next promotion opportunity.

Establishing yourself as a go-to for specialist legal knowledge has made you the person everyone looks to for advice. Your brand indicates your strengths, capabilities and enables you to stand out above the competition.

In short, few things are more critical to building a successful legal career than having a strong personal brand.

So, what could go wrong?

Sometimes, your personal brand can slip and work against you, preventing you from moving forward in your career. So, it’s wise to look out for these tell-tale signs that your brand is failing – and how you can rectify it before any damage occurs.

1. Your Goals Are Too Vague

Why are you building your brand? What are your end goals?

A vague “I want to become a leader” isn’t clear enough. You need to have a definite goal in mind. Be it achieving a Senior Partnership, Managerial role or Senior Solicitor within your Law Firm, having a clear objective will help you focus and plan on how exactly you’re going to get there.

And understanding why you want to develop your personal brand will keep you on track too.

2. You’re Neglecting ‘Real’ Interactions

Blogging and vlogging may be all the rage, but are you neglecting the more traditional channels of communication?

It’s tempting to follow the herd, and there’s nothing wrong with having an online presence it’s essential (more on this later), but it’s also worth considering other ways to get your brand across.

Keynote speaking at law events, networking at conferences or writing a guest piece for a legal publication – all these can help establish your personal legal profile. Face to face interactions have a lot more impact than online relationships – so make sure you utilise both well for maximum impact.

3. You Don’t Practice What You Preach

While we’re talking about interactions, considering your interactions with your team in the workplace is crucial to maintaining your personal brand. Having one persona for the outside world and another in the office isn’t going to cut it.

How you treat your legal team is going to directly affect how they view you. Consistency in your communication, from important meetings to casual chats in the hallway, is crucial.

Be aware of your communication style, actively listen and make time for your staff. They are the ones who will bolster your position and recommend you to others, thus building your credibility.

4. It’s All About You

Hopefully, you don’t have any controversial tweeting habits, but when online it’s ideal to mix promotion of yourself with legal industry knowledge that conveys your expertise without it seeming as though you are endlessly indulging in ‘over the top’ self-promotion. In other words, the Goldilocks effect: not too much, not too little.

Ideally, 10 per cent of your posts should be about you (for example, recent achievements or awards) and the rest should highlight current legal news and trends, provoking discussion and sharing your perspective on things that are happening in the legal world.

And it goes without saying – keep your private life private, and your professional life professional online. Mixing the two is inviting trouble.

Be mindful that it may not be something you write on your personal feed that will damage your reputation, but it could be a controversial response from a friend; from political comments to excessive personal information – keep it off your professional profile.

5. You Don’t Stick to Your Promises

If you promised to appear as a speaker at an event, you wouldn’t not show up, would you?

Similarly, if you guarantee an in-depth article to your online followers every week, you need to ensure its there. If you fail to keep your promises, even at this level, you will lose the trust of followers and damage your brand.

So, think carefully before you promise articles, videos and twitter posts and ensure that you can fit them into your schedule.

6. You Don’t Follow Up

Credibility is built on consistency, so being constantly mindful of behaviour is critical.

Putting your brand ‘out there’ but failing to keep consistency is going to damage your brand. You’ve got your LinkedIn profile updated and your articles written for your blog posts – what else can you do?

Just as you would if you were marketing your law firm, you need a marketing strategy for your brand (remember the goals we talked about earlier?) Consistent messages and actions keep your sense of identity and credibility going and help power you towards those goals.

Maintaining your identity online and in-person will add value to your propositions and opinions.

That way, you will establish your professionalism and earn the trust of peers, colleagues and industry professionals to build authenticity and make the most of your personal brand.

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.

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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