6 Steps to building a legal career: Step 1

24 Jan 2014

We’re going to be taking you step-by-step through building your legal career, with practical tips and changes you can make to your approach to help you to grow in your profession in 2014. To kick us off, we’re talking about how asking the right questions can not only make a big difference to the knowledge you gain, but also to how people perceive you.

Step 1: Ask the right questions

It might seem simplistic, but there’s more to asking questions than just throwing the odd one in during your interview at a prospective new employer. Pausing to ask the right questions at all stages of your career can help to ensure that you’re heading in the right direction and, if you don’t know the answer, can help you to identify gaps in your learning. Below, we consider some of the questions it’s worth asking of yourself and others, to make sure that your career is heading in the right direction.

Starting your career

  • Where do you want to be?

All businesses start out with a plan, so it’s only right that your career does the same. Knowing where you want to be makes it a lot easier to plan your way to get there so, where is it you want your career to take you, who do you want to work for and what do you want your working life to look like once you get there? Answering initial questions like this can make it much easier to visualise your ideal positions, giving you something tangible to work towards.

  • How are you going to get there?

A follow on from the above question: you now know where you want to be, so how are you going to get there? It might be possible to answer this question yourself (you’ll be aware, for example, if you need more training or experience in a position you want to hold at senior level) but if the answer is proving more difficult then don’t be afraid to talk to people who will be able to help point you in the right direction. Asking people in the know about how you can better yourself can be a very positive thing indeed, giving you access to new knowledge and showing your ambition.

At interview or when looking at moving company

  • Where does this company fit in the new legal industry? Is that where I want to be?

It’s always important to consider the business position of a company you’re moving to, but with the changes in the legal industry, explicitly considering what type of legal firm you’re about to move to becomes even more important. What are this firm’s prospects in the new industry, how will they look to conduct business, how will your role be affected because of that? All of these questions are key to making sure you’re about to make a move that suits you now and contributes to your future career.

  • Does your new role give you the ability to grow even further?

Going back to the earlier questions: is this a role that helps you get to where you want to be, does it improve your skills or give you opportunities for training, or does it provide you with experience vital for future positions? If you’re looking to progress and grow your career then it’s important that any new position is really helping you to do that.

  • How do you want to work?

In an ideal world, how would you go about doing your job on a daily basis? Is this new position somewhere near to that, or are you going to have to compromise? Are those compromises worth the other benefits?

When you’ve ‘made it’

  • Where are you going to go next?

Reaching the top of your profession could be seen as your end goal, but surely there’s more? When you reach your ideal position, where are you going to go next, what does the rest of your career hold, how are you going to carry on developing? Planning for this stage of your career – for yourself or your business – is just as important as planning at the very start.