A goldfish leaping from a small bowl into a big bowl

A goldfish leaping from a small bowl into a big bowlWhen you work in law, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that you have a set career path that will progress smoothly.

Two roads running into the horizon and diverging

Two roads running into the horizon and divergingYou are coming towards the end of your training contract and qualification is looming. The only problem is, you don’t know which area you want to qualify into. Sound familiar? It is the big qualification question.

Statue holding scales

A bronze statue of scales of justiceIt used to be that aiming to become a partner in a law firm was a given. It was why you put up with all the education, long hours and everything else.

The importance of a company culture

In an ever more saturated legal services market, what's the magic formula for firm growth? Successful mergers depend on more than how much work new partners can bring in or the clients they bring with them. If the culture fails to cohere, the original merger effort can seem arbitrary and the difficult integration of the businesses rather futile. Clients identify with the firm's culture, and for many of them, their decision to engage a team is based on it.

an image of 1%

As far as diversity goes, disability is a most under-represented category among lawyers, with less than 1 per cent at large firms registered as disabled. This figure drops even more at smaller firms, with only 0.7 per cent reporting a disability. While the Chambers Student Guide states that the profession is inherently about ‘ensuring justice, fairness and equality for all’, the visibility around disability is disproportionately small.

Overcoming obstacles in your Law career

A career in law is a long road. While getting into law school is rightly lauded as a respectable achievement, it is merely the first hurdle to be overcome on the path to legal success.

Who are you as a legal business brand?

Gone are the days when lawyers sat behind their desks expecting mere legal experience and the passage of time to further their careers. Today, lawyers need to be business people. Now more than ever, this entails a focus on personal brand and developing it in line with one’s career priorities. Underlying this effort must be a business-like approach to individual personal development and a strong interest in commercial and business issues.

How will Generation Y affect Law firms

The stereotypical depiction of a Generation Y (18-27 year old) employee is of an ambitious dreamer intent on a higher pay package and longer holidays. The extent of the accuracy of this stereotype is uncertain, but it is clear that the arrival of a new generation into the workplace, notably different from their predecessors, will have a significant impact on the operation of businesses. Law firms are not exempt from this inevitability.

Options on which direction to go in your life

Over a third of UK workers hope to leave their current positions and 2015 represents a year of considered transition for the many lawyers employed in the UK. A growing economy has given rise to increased expectations and an increase in employment opportunities, especially for lawyers. In particular those lawyers high in demand include, property, tax, technology, construction, banking, competition, employment, commercial, financial services and compliance.

The smiling face of a satisfied lawyer

As will be familiar to many lawyers already, each year the Law Society conducts research by collecting data from every level of the legal industry about how satisfied the people working in it actually are. It turns out that, currently, lawyers are a pretty satisfied bunch. That is not all there is to it of course— there is always more to be learnt by checking out the detail.

A lawyer walking between Book shelves in a library

Moving to a West End firm is often seen as a good option for City associates or junior partners who feel undervalued in their current position. Many lawyers can feel dwarfed by the sheer number of lawyers that surround them, struggle to stand out for promotion or find it hard to specialise in an area that they are passionate about. Entrepreneurial lawyers can equally feel frustrated by the lack of opportunities and support. Lawyers who recognise dwindling prospects of hitting the senior partner ranks or those with a more entrepreneurial vent often cast their eye beyond the large City firms. The West End’s abundance of niche practices, busily catching business from new trends or picking up work that is no longer fashionable among the City giants, has a certain appeal for those with a taste for opportunity.

Negotiating in the office

Negotiating a better salary can be a daunting prospect at the best of times but research has consistently shown that women perform particularly poorly when it comes to these conversations. Add to this the pay difference between male and female lawyers – which, according to recent Law Society data, stands at around one third— and it becomes clear that women in particular need to rethink how they approach salary negotiations.

Start the conversation

The first, and potentially most difficult step, is to initiate the discussion. The topic is likely to come up naturally when commencing a new job or changing roles but is harder at other times. Annual reviews are a good opportunity to take advantage of an easy opening where pay can be discussed. Be direct and ask for a raise – talking around the issue or alluding to it won’t get you anywhere and is a mistake women frequently make more than men.

WORK PART TIME

The latest ‘Power Part Time List’ showcased 50 of the top business leaders working fewer than 5 full days a week. The people featured were chosen based on criteria such as seniority, inspiration and outstanding success in their part time roles.

The outside of a large law firm building

Since 2008, tough markets, cost cutting and pricing pressures have all conspired to squeeze law firm finances. Meanwhile, the negative effects on headline profit per equity partner (PEP) figures have led many firms to simply reduce the number of partners. Despite an upturn in the economy, firms have continued to limit the opportunities for senior associates to be made partners without a client following. Therefore, associates looking to be made partner in today’s environment must be politically savvy, plan long-term and take positive steps in order to win this increasingly elusive prize.

City skyline

Many lawyers enjoy the kudos and intensity of focus that come with the territory in City law firms. Working in complex areas or on high-profile transactions for large corporates and financial service firms can be a thrilling experience but it is not suited to every City lawyer for their entire career.

Acting as a lawyer on behalf of top institutions is a great experience but niche areas can start to feel limited if they are tucked away behind the front lines or they are on the peripheries of a City firm’s core areas of practice. Equally, junior lawyers drawn to the glamour of a City job early in their careers can find that their enthusiasm simply wanes over time. Market trends can certainly play their part too; ask any securitization lawyer that began their career in the property boom how they felt in the immediate aftermath of Lehman Brothers’ collapse.

Boardroom meeting

Despite the legal profession being more diverse than the professions as a whole, recent statistics demonstrate continuing gender inequality. This may well encourage women to leave their jobs in law, in greater numbers, than their male contemporaries.

A brood of ducklings following their mother

Do they have a client following? This is typically the very first question our clients ask us when presenting them with our senior candidates, say 6pqe+. A client following is pretty much a pre-requisite in the current legal market if you want to move at partner or senior associate level to another law firm - without it you’re going to find it incredibly difficult – especially in the current legal market. So what is a client following? And how do you get one? These are the questions you should be asking yourself as an assistant if you want to progress up the ladder to partner.

icons of 2 people with empty speech bubbles

Ok so you’ve had the talk about partnership, you have a clear way ahead of you and have now been told to go forth “build your practice”. Part of this brief means expanding your network, which inevitably means networking and for some that’s the one thing that fills them with dread.

So you’ve gone ahead and organised a networking event or better still you’ve managed to wangle your way into one without having the headache of organising it yourself. What now? What do you do when you enter that room packed with unknown faces – all huddled into small groups. How did you break in? And how do you sound interesting? And furthermore how do you make it work for you and leave with a pocket full of useful contacts?