6 Steps to building a legal career: Step 3

13 Mar 2014

For the first six months of 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. For our third tip…

Step 3: Recognise changes within the industry and adapt to them

The significant changes to the legal industry, brought about in part by deregulation, are already having an impact on individuals and their jobs, as well as on a business level for firms. Like your firm, you as an individual must learn to adapt to the changes if you want to succeed in the new world.

Connect with clients

Clients need to see you as their trusted business adviser, their place to go to when they have legal issues to address. As we wrote last year, a significant survey of business’ legal requirements found that often, businesses with a legal problem turned to other professionals such as accountants, because they talked to them often and trusted them to help.

The changes to the legal industry will give clients many more choices of places to go to for legal advice. Some of these options will be cheaper and may seem more easily available than the services you offer.

Because of this, lawyers will need to make sure they have a sound ongoing business relationship with their clients: it is no longer enough to just expect the client to come back to you with their business automatically, time and time again.

Recognise your new career path

Last month we published an article about the way the accepted and traditional career path of the lawyer has changed over the last 15-30 years. Depending on what stage of your career you are currently at, you may have seen this change in action first hand.

In adapting to the new shape of the legal industry, you may need to also consider what your new career path looks like, dependent on where you are in your career currently. The models of legal businesses have changed, meaning the structures within which you work are now significantly different, offering different opportunities and routes to the top. Consider carefully the path you are on and where you are expecting and hoping to end up.

Have a plan

If you do not have a plan then you may find yourself becoming part of somebody else’s, whether that be your current firm’s plan for you or the industry’s plan for your firm.

Formulating a plan for yourself can include many elements: it may entail staying in your current position and getting expert advice, or it may mean moving jobs. What further knowledge do you need for your plan? How long will it take? Do you need advice or outside influence? Is your plan reliant on a third party impact, perhaps from the market at large?

Knowing the details of where you want to be and how you are going to get there can help you to mitigate the conditions of the market and focus on your own development at times of change.

Previous articles in this series:

Step 1: Ask the right questions
Step 2: Know your strengths and development areas