How long do you spend wondering about your career path as a lawyer and where it’s headed? Maybe you have a career plan? For many a lawyer, career path is a linear one. You graduate, get a job, get promoted, become a partner, and then retire.
In the meantime, you spend a considerable effort devoted to thinking about promotion, trying to get promoted, wondering about what it will be like when you get promoted. Your career path becomes obsessive.
You’re Trapped in the Lawyer Career Path
I’m not intending to argue today that the standard lawyer career path is a bad one. In fact, it’s quite pleasant. However, what I am going to argue today is that you should really stop thinking about it quite as much.
There’s a number of reasons I suggest this, and so I’ll deal with them in turn.
1. Your Career Path Doesn’t Help your Clients
It’s interesting, the time we spend devoted on the issue and “trying to get promoted” we often lose focus of where our efforts should really be – with our clients.
No promotion on your part will in any way ever help you serve your clients any better. Your title is irrelevant, your pay bracket is irrelevant, and your ego is irrelevant. Your clients just want good legal service and frankly most of them don’t mind what rank the person delivering the service is.
2. Obsession with Promotion Damages your Productivity
Really obsession with anything damages your productivity. However, often people devote their careers to promotion, rather than devoting their careers to serving their clients and their firm. Every minute you spend fantasizing about the next promotion is a minute you’re not generating revenue for your firm or serving a client.
Really, it is superior client service and superior contribution to profitability which will get you promoted. Focus on those things, and don’t worry about the other part.
3. The Lawyer Career Path Isn’t Set in Stone
There are lots of options for lawyers to consider in their careers, and the more you pigeon hole yourself into a set direction the less likely you are to be considering all of the many options available to you. Yes, the standard career path is pretty likely for many lawyers, but don’t put the blinkers on in your desire to advance through the ranks, just to find that you should have made some better decisions earlier in the piece.
Careers Follow – They Don’t Lead
The point of this article is that your success in your career will be defined by your abilities as a lawyer, not the other way around. I know that promotions are hard fought, and everybody wants recognition for their work. But focus yourself on providing real value to your firm and real value to your clients, and you will find that your career largely looks after itself.
Try it this week – and Happy Lawyering!