Career mapping for jobs in the legal sector

When you embark on a journey, it is essential to know where you are heading. A detailed map can help you stay focused, avoid wasting time, and get to your destination faster. This is why career mapping is a valuable tool for lawyers. It’s especially powerful if you’ve been working in a specific practice area or niche industry for a while and are ready to do something different.

What is Career Mapping?

Career mapping is the creation of a personalized long-term plan for advancement within your organization or field. It describes where you are now and where you would like to be, as well as all the necessary steps in between.

Traditionally, career plans are developed by employers for or with their employees. However, we recommend that candidates take a proactive stance and do their own career mapping. Having a solid and achievable plan for your career, based on the experience you already have, can open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Create your own personal career plan

Crafting your career plan doesn’t have to be stressful or time-consuming. You can write it by hand or create it in a Word document or spreadsheet. There are even career plan templates available online to guide you. Here are the basic steps you need to follow to define your own vision of what awaits you:

  • Define where you are currently in your career. This is your starting point, a professional profile of sorts. This is a self-analysis exercise that can give you a better understanding of your overall goals. Be honest and thorough. You must include information such as:

    • Professional experience: roles and responsibilities

    • Professional Achievements

    • Technical and soft skills, with a focus on transferable skills

    • Aspects of your job that you dislike

    • The aspects of your job that you like the most

    • Strengths and areas in which you excel

    • Gaps and weaknesses (e.g. skills gaps)

  • Decide where you want to go. Now is the time to visualize your future. Describe the type of work you want to do, the businesses you are interested in, and the type of work-life balance you want to achieve. What title and responsibilities do you aspire to? Think of this step as creating your dream job description.

  • At the same time, you also want to stay flexible with your goals. There will be more opportunities for you if you are open to working in a variety of industries versus just one or two specific ones. For example, if you only work on commercial contracts in real estate, you can translate that experience into a contract objective applicable to any industry (i.e., NDAs, SOWs, supplier agreements, supply contracts, etc.).

  • Find out how to connect the dots. How to go from n°1 to n°2? Start by finding lawyers who are already in jobs you aspire to. LinkedIn is a great tool for investigating a person’s route to finding their ideal job. You can also search for attorneys who previously held your title or worked in a similar field and follow the breadcrumb to see where they went after leaving the firm. It will give you ideas and inspiration as to what is possible for you.

  • If you meet a lawyer on LinkedIn who has been successful in a career path that interests you, don’t be afraid to contact them. Send them a message and ask them how they made this move. What skills and/or experiences did they use to land their current position? What keywords did they focus on in their CV? Try to better understand the departmental structure and business model of their firm, as well as its approach to the professional development of lawyers. For example, if your end goal is to become a GC, companies like Procter & Gamble and The Coca Cola Company are good destinations. Based on our market intelligence, these organizations are preparing all of their attorneys with the skills to eventually become a GC from day one. Be sure to educate yourself on company culture and cross-functional working, as some large organizations may divide their legal teams into niche-focused silos, making it more difficult to grow within the company.

  • You might also benefit from real-world insight from a trusted mentor or member of your network. Seek clear, unfiltered guidance to make you more marketable in your target practice area, industry niche, or organization. Find out who you should connect with and what your resume really needs to get you where you want to go.

  • Set realistic mini-goals to propel yourself forward. Now that you have a better idea of ​​what you need to work on, it’s time to create an action plan. Resist the temptation to set ambitious goals. Instead, set smaller, more achievable goals and set a deadline for achieving them. Make sure your mini-goals are CLEVER objectives: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. This will make it easier to track your progress.

    For example, if you want to transition from government work to a private law firm, it helps to have hands-on experience in areas that companies focus on, such as antitrust or tax crimes. Ask your supervisor for projects or training opportunities that can help you gain knowledge in these areas. Or, if you want to become a GC, volunteer to lead an employee resource group in your organization to gain leadership experience. If you’re between jobs and at a career crossroads, consider acting opportunities. Interim gives you the flexibility of a short-term commitment (3-18 months) while allowing you to gain valuable new skills and experience that you can transfer to a permanent position. Every time you reach a mini goal, take a minute to congratulate yourself! Recording how far you’ve come will help you stay motivated along the way.

  • Continue to register. Create a regular schedule (eg, quarterly) to review your career plan and assess your progress toward your goals. Remember that your map is a living document and subject to change. Your goals may change over time with your action steps. Be prepared to adapt your plan as needed.

    Having a carefully planned career map can give you more confidence and a greater sense of control over your future. It can also help ensure that every decision you make continually brings you closer to the legal career you were destined for.

©2022 Major, Lindsey & Africa, an Allegis Group company. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 52

Comments are closed.