The legal profession can be competitive, and staying on top of your career game can be challenging. Our recent state-of-the-market research revealed that for 77% of lawyers, progression is important. This figure is even higher for those with up to 7 years PQE. While the majority of lawyers are keen to progress in their careers, many people don’t have a clear strategy for doing so.
Creating a strategic career plan can help you reach your long-term goals in a structured and efficient way. As well as helping you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, it will also help you make informed decisions about your professional development. Putting together a career plan can also help you determine whether you’re at the right firm for you to reach your goals or if a job move will make it easier for you to get to where you’d like to be.
In this blog post, we’ll share some tips for creating a strategic career plan to help you achieve your short-term and long-term goals.
Start with some self-reflection
The first step in creating a strategic career plan is to assess where you are now in your legal career and where you want to be in the future. Write down your current job title, responsibilities, skills, and experience. Identify what you’re best at in your role, what you’re not so good at and the areas in which you’d like to improve.
Next, think about your long-term career goals and what you need to do to achieve them. Do you want to become a partner? Do you want to become a Head of Department? Would you like to make a move in-house or become a consultant? Would you like to ultimately set up your own law firm?
Once you have a goal in mind, think about the steps you’d need to take to get there and set specific and measurable goals that align with your aspirations. These might be rungs on the career ladder, professional qualifications (such as STEP or Law Society Panel membership) or experience working on a particular type or size of case.
Do your research
Once you have a clear idea of your career goals, carry out some online research to identify trends, challenges, and opportunities that might be relevant to you and your chosen career path. Read legal publications, attend industry events, and network with other legal professionals (either within your firm or elsewhere) to expand your knowledge and stay on top of developments within your practice area.
Analyse the market demand for your skills and identify areas where you can differentiate yourself from your competition and move closer to reaching your objectives. It might be useful for you to have a conversation with a specialist legal recruiter at this stage. While you may not want to move firms, they’ll be able to educate you on the skills and expertise that law firms are looking for so know what you need to do to increase your market value and ultimately, progress your career.
Find a mentor
Having a mentor can be valuable for lawyers looking to be successful. A mentor could be a senior colleague or someone in your network who has already achieved what you’re looking to achieve in your career, or even if they haven’t quite got to that point in their career, they’re who is at least further along the path towards doing so than you are and can share their experience.
They are someone you can turn to for advice and who can share with you the practical knowledge they have gained during their career. And because they’ve been there before, they can help you navigate any challenges that crop up and offer you words of encouragement and motivation if things get tough.
Identify your development needs
To achieve your career goals, you need to continuously develop your skills and knowledge. Identify areas where you need to improve or learn new skills. Speaking to your line manager during your annual appraisal is a good opportunity to ask for feedback on potential areas for development. This could include soft skills such as communication, leadership, or personal branding as well as technical skills such as legal research or client care.
Consider pursuing additional training to enhance your skills and develop your expertise.
Create an action plan
Once you have assessed your current standing, researched the industry, and identified your development needs, it’s time to create an action plan. This plan should include specific steps that you will need to take to achieve your goals. If you’re looking to progress within your firm, your manager should be able to offer guidance on what these steps might be.
Consider both short-term and long-term actions, such as improving your CV, networking with experienced lawyers within your niche, attending a conference, or enrolling in a course. Set deadlines and measure progress to hold yourself accountable and adjust your plan as needed.
Monitor and revise your plan
Finally, it’s important to regularly monitor and revise your career plan as you progress towards your goals. Evaluate your performance, track your achievements, and adjust your plan accordingly. Stay informed about changes in the legal industry and market demand for your skills. Continuously seek feedback from mentors, colleagues, and clients to improve your performance and adapt to changing needs. Having a strategic career plan is not a one-time exercise but a continuous process of self-reflection, learning, and growth.
Creating a strategic career plan is essential for lawyers who want to stay competitive and advance their careers. By starting with a self-assessment, researching the industry, identifying development needs, creating an action plan, and monitoring and revising it, you will be better able to work towards your long-term goals in a structured and efficient way.
At Realm, our specialist recruitment team are not just recruiters, we’re passionate about partnering with legal professionals throughout their careers to help them get to where they want to be. If you’re looking for advice on how you can reach your short or long-term career goals, our team are here to help.
Get in touch on 03300 245 606 or email email@example.com to arrange a confidential conversation about your legal career.