This time we are talking about some of these things in more detail.
Good professional and personal relationships within your immediate team are important – but so are relationships with others in the firm. If you want your career to progress you will need others to back you, not just your immediate supervisor. Developing these relationships can also expose you to new work, clients and opportunities, crucial to career development.
Develop these by friendly greetings and asking people’s names when you meet them. Remembering names is also useful! Participate in firm social activities and educational programs, and get involved in firm committees.
Get to know the industry in which your clients work in detail. Become a member of relevant industry associations and read relevant industry magazines and newspaper articles. Know who the centres of influence are in the relevant industry and follow those people on LinkedIn, as well as other thought leaders.
If you are considering memberships, make sure the membership of those organisations are made up of people across a broad professional group.
Understand that you are never too young to be involved in developing client relationships and looking for ways to add value to those relationships. You can do this by attending industry events, writing articles, attending and participating in external as well as internal client seminars. Most importantly, stay in touch – the friends you make at University and in the early days of your career may one day be clients or potential clients.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses – honestly
Be honest with yourself about what you do well and what you can improve. Don’t like public speaking? Learn to love it and practice every presentation. Good at creative writing? Consider writing a regular column or article for an industry magazine. Accept constructive feedback and act on it.
An honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses is necessary in order to truly develop.
If you have not already done so, undertake one or more of the behavioural assessments which will not only give you an insight into your own behavioural preferences, but will enable you to gain insight into others.
On the Job training
Every matter you conduct, or are involved in will teach you something, whether it be new technical skills, client skills, drafting, negotiation, or a myriad of other skills. If you find, however, that you are continuing to have the same sort of work delegated to you, you should be prepared to speak up and ask for more challenging work. Which leads us to…
Stretch Assignments and secondments
Stretch assignments are those matters that you may not think you have the capability to do, really would like to do but which will stretch you and your ability, and potentially your confidence. You will learn more from putting your hand up for stretch assignments than in doing anything else. Don’t make the mistake of fearing them – they are challenges, but worthy ones.
Similarly, client secondments are career development opportunities that you should embrace. You will learn about how clients use legal services, what clients expect, and how clients perceive lawyers and their advice.
Track your progress
Decide what you want your career to look like, track your progress, and you will get to where you want to go faster.