6 Steps to building a legal career: Step 6

15 Aug 2014

In 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 this year. For our final article, we talk about how proactively choosing who you work with and for can have a big impact on your career growth.

Step 6: Work with the right people

Furthering your career in the legal profession, like many other industries, can be as much about the people whom you come into contact with on a daily basis as it can be about your own actions and performance.

This isn’t just about networking though, or talking to the right people at the right time. Proactively choosing to work with and for people who can help you to progress your career is a part of your career development and there are a number of ways to make sure that you make the right choices when it comes to deciding on the right partners for your career.

Choosing a firm

Clearly your choice of firm to work for will have a big impact on your career from a number of angles. For those just entering the industry in particular, choosing a new firm can be an extremely important moment in shaping your professional future. Depending on your goals, a firm committed to professional development, with a clear career path and plan for trainees, may well be suitable, giving you the necessary extra training and skills to grow in your profession. Not all firms will state benefits such as this explicitly so be prepared to ask questions around their plans for you in the future.

For more senior professionals, choosing a new firm to move to can be even more significant to your career prospects. Moving to an associate role at a firm who already have a high percentage of partners, for example, could mean that it is necessary to move again to further your career. With new types of firms frequenting the market, consider how the structure of any firm may change your prospects. Even if you are accustomed to moving jobs and positions relatively frequently, there will come a point when you would rather not move on. Making sure that that moment is reached with the right type of firm, with the right prospects for your career, can be very important.

Finding sponsors for growth

Within any position, at any level, it is important to look to those around you for people who will be able to help you to advance. This may be from the point of view of passing on advice, guidance or expertise, or it may be via more direct methods, such as introductions to clients, industry contacts or other key individuals. There is no exact science to finding sponsors, but looking closely into the history of a firm, or at the past partners of a firm, and judging their culture and behaviour may be useful.

Looking further afield for partners

Whilst some factors for growth will rely, at least in part, on external contributions from the firm you work for and the individuals there, you must also take a strong proactive responsibility in finding the right sort of people to work with if you wish your career to grow in the desired direction.

Working with a consultancy, such as Jepson Holt, can help to open up opportunities that you may otherwise not have heard of, let alone had access to. Whilst you will doubtless have your own contacts, working with us opens up our network to you, greatly increasing your chances of finding key contacts that can help your career growth.

You must also take responsibility for growing your network with the right kinds of contacts. Potential future clients are one obvious area that will not just help you, but will also help the firm you work for and therefore, your potential future development. Other professional contacts can also help to further your opportunities and spending time with like-minded individuals, such as accountants and financial advisers, can have an impact on your career direction.

Previous articles in this series:

Step 1: Ask the right questions

Step 2: Know your strengths and development areas

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

Step 4: Grow your network, understand your following

Step 5: Plan your career path