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Associate Level – Career Planning

Jul 2018

…Essential throughout your career

Although you have been qualified for a number of years now, you must not lose sight of your career plan. If you are thinking about moving at your level, then there is something you can do to ensure your soul searching does turn into navel-gazing.

Given your skills profile, ask yourself if you are working in the practice best offering scope for personal and professional development? Is there a skills profile/firm profile match? A property lawyer operating within a mainly corporate practice may ultimately be limiting his/her options for partnership or even senior level positions. Think about how far you can take your skills profile. Similarly, will you become too experienced and too well paid to be able to make a sideways move (to a more junior level position as you see it) and retrain within a different specialist area? Others may view this as a downward step, given the salary/experience ratio, and firms may be less willing to offer you that opportunity than to a more junior level lawyer. This allows the firm to match salary and experience, as well as allowing them to train up staff within that specific corporate culture.

More senior lawyers bring experience, market knowledge, reputation, followings and the corporate cultural baggage of another firm! You may consider your years of experience as a strength you bring, other firms may form a different opinion. They may consider this as a weakness and as a result draw conclusions, rightly or wrongly, about your adaptability to new corporate cultures. This is why it is very important to consider the retraining issue, and not wait 6-8 years before looking closely at the skills profile/firm profile match. If there is no match, then how likely is this to change in the short to medium to long-term future? Given current trends to specialise, then you should be looking to find yourself in the working environment most suited to your skills that will allow you to develop and progress. Career planning is integral to your professional and personal success.

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