Attorneys reach out to legal recruiters for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common are: they don't like the people they work with, they want more money, a better quality of life or to work for only one client.
While all of these are valid reasons for seeking a change in the short term, the career planning advice that we most often give to young attorneys is straightforward: Set a career goal that fits your personality, needs and desires, and base your career choices on how much each one helps you to get closer to the goal. Or, put more simply, keep your eyes on the prize.
Think it through ... very carefully.
Being unhappy today should not be the only catalyst that moves you to your next job. I encourage every attorney to take the time to step back and think long-term about their careers. Setting a goal now can help you better evaluate every move you make, ensuring that each step along the journey is aligned with a few key indicators that have been defined before embarking on the path to future success.
I always start by asking my candidates two questions: who they are and what they want to be when they grow up. These questions are genuine and aimed at getting to the heart of a candidate's goals. The answer to these basic questions will help shape your career path and determine the choices you need to make along the way.
Of course, as you will see below, it isn't just about these two questions. The process I am recommending will help you determine, at the ultra-micro level, the type of job that will make you the happiest, and what you need to do to get there.
WHO ARE YOU?
As we often hear, each one of us is a "work in progress." Every person can benefit from regular self-assessment and self-evaluation, as well as constructive feedback from those we know and trust. While this helps us to always have an eye on personal and professional growth, it also reminds us that we are each wired a certain way that affects how we respond to different situations and circumstances. This "wiring" is important for us to understand so we know ourselves better, and thus can take a more deliberate approach to choosing the career that will be the best fit. There are various tools that can facilitate a journey of self-discovery, including books, personality tests, psychological profiles, work evaluations and other resources.
Knowing yourself better can even help you choose a practice area. For example, if you know that you don't mind dealing with moral conundrums, you might want to consider environmental, white-collar crime, products liability or insurance coverage, as opposed to real estate, IP or tax. If you prefer to analyze gray areas in the law, you may lean toward family law, litigation or trusts and estates, as opposed to those practice areas that analyze more concrete issues, such as regulatory and corporate securities.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE?