Strategically Ladder Your Legal Skills
Increased competition, changes to billing practices, and overseas outsourcing have substantially changed the legal industry. Given these changes, it is much harder, and may take longer, to distinguish yourself and achieve your goals. I counsel lawyers to think very strategically about the positions they accept and “ladder” their way to long-term success. By ladder, I mean to recognize that with each job acceptance, there needs to be a specific skillset that is acquired that contributes to a larger, long-term career goal.
Lawyers need to go beyond their specialized legal abilities and develop a wider and deeper management toolkit. For example, four of the ten core skills I help lawyers develop in my career counseling and placement practice are:
1) Know how your clients run their business. True client symbiosis comes with mastering the day-to-day. In-house positions offer intimate knowledge of the data, processes, finances, and challenges of one company in an industry. Having only one client can also allow you to develop a complete business model, pieces of which will be transferrable to other future situations.
2) Build great relationships with all the groups you touch and connect with. Remember the old maxim that “no one gets there alone”? That’s even truer in today’s globally connected world where “everyone is everywhere”. You need to build strong relationships and networks with your associates, partners, judges, clients, colleagues and friends and always be ready to make new connections.
3) Be known for your stability and reliability. Clients, partners, associates, and judges want to know they can trust your work and your decisions. Become the go-to-attorney that people turn to in a crisis.
4) Review and Implement your Career Plan Every Month. Certain requisite business, financial, and interpersonal skills will be enormously helpful whether you end your career as a firm’s partner, an in-house counsel, running a non-profit, or opening a new restaurant in Malibu. Draft a career plan and run with it. The most important aspect to your plan is that you’re identifying and acquiring skills.
How to begin? Ask yourself: “Why did I become a lawyer,” “What do I want to achieve during my career?” and “What steps do I need to take to reach my goals?” Please feel free to share your career strategies with me via Vera.Sullivan@Diversityforce.com.
Vera Sullivan, M.A., is the Founder and President of Diversityforce, LLC, and one of New York’s leading career counselors for over 30 years specializing in the legal industry in career counseling, diversity recruiting for corporations, and outplacement. Vera is the author of From Wishing to Reality: How to use The HourGlass PrincipleTM to define your career goals. Please visit the Diversityforce website at www.Diversityforce.net. #