Career by Choice, Not by Chance: How the Power of Focus Can Shape Your Legal Career

August 29, 2022


As legal recruitment consultants, we have worked with lawyers who did not put much effort in choosing their career. They stumbled onto their practice area ‘by accident’ and while they may have built otherwise successful careers, they ultimately felt unfulfilled. On the other hand, we have also worked with lawyers who were determined with a clear focus on their career goals. We often find lawyers with a defined purpose early on have more satisfying careers.


Focus in legal career planning is key, especially in a world where we are bombarded with distracting information and messages. Having a clear focus on your career goals will better enable you to contemplate your career trajectory over the long term, giving you a greater chance at achieving your objectives, no matter how lofty they may be.


Below is a three-stage process to help bring into focus your career goals:


1. Conduct a Personal Audit


Critically assess and list your personal and work-related skills, interests, likes, and dislikes.

a) Critical Questions Private Practice

  • Do you want to make partner in a firm?
  • What type of firm do you want to practice in? International, large, mid-sized, small, boutique, solo?
  • What’s the best platform you need to develop your practice?
  • What type of platform best suits the practice you are or looking to develop?

b) Critical Questions In-House

  • Do you want to move up to a more senior position in your legal department? If no such opportunity exists, or will exist for a while, are you prepared to move to another company, if so, when should you move?
  • Do you want to develop your management capabilities?
  • Do you want to move to the business side? What do you see yourself doing? Are there opportunities at your company and will they be made available to you? Will you have to move companies?
  • Do you want to return to Private Practice?


2. Obtain Feedback


Friends can offer a sympathetic ear but little else. Seek unbiased feedback on goals, direction, and marketability from professionals, such as legal recruiters, career coaches, and mentors. Ensure you have accurate information on the market so you can better contextualize your career goals.


There is a lot of information out there – you need to decipher it, speak to experts, and advise yourself in a way you would advise clients.  The right professionals will provide insight to assist you with career planning.


3. Career Plan


If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Create a one-page plan for your career success, including your long-term goals, strengths, weaknesses, strategies, and actions to achieve those goals. One way to do this is by conducting a SWOT analysis. We suggest you review your plan frequently to stay on track.


A long-term perspective, when combined with clarity and focus, can permit you to achieve greater and more meaningful goals that better align with your personal and professional objectives. Ultimately, aligning what you do to what you want results in happiness.


​Goal setting can be challenging and time-intensive as it involves, among other things, honestly evaluating values, interests, strengths and weaknesses, and ascertaining which career paths are most suitable. If you are interested in exploring your career options, our specialist legal recruitment team would be happy to have a confidential discussion with you. Contact one of our legal recruitment consultants for a chat.


Dal Bhathal, Managing Partner


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