Many of my conversations with the lawyers I meet often turn to them talking about their career aspirations and what they need to do to make their next career move. The biggest piece of advice I give them is:

Have a career plan focused on what you need to do and be realistic about the timelines. Whether your potential move is to an in-house corporate team, for a partner opportunity, or for a more defined pathway, you need to take into account the following: 

Be a client led lawyer. Be proactive. Be a lawyer who wants to catch up with their clients to see what is going on in the market and their sectors/industries. Build a relationship with them. Don't be seen as the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff or a lawyer who is a "sunk cost" unless really needed.

Think about your practice area. If you have only been practicing in dispute work but want to widen your perspective into other practice areas, you need to be thinking about this in advance. Some law firms can offer both contentious and non-contentious work, especially if you are in a smaller practice. However, make sure you get a balance. Ensure your experience is aligned to your long-term career aspirations and interests.  

Are you really ready for in-house? You may be getting itchy feet after working for two years post qualifying in private practice, but realistically to go in-house our corporate clients are looking for four to five years PQE as a benchmark. While you may be technically very experienced as a lawyer, GCs and their Heads Of are looking for commercial acumen and stakeholder engagement from their lawyers. You need to be able to have a robust discussion with a GM, CFO, or a COO and have a commercial approach to dealing with issues.

I hope this helps on your career plans! 

For more job search tips, click here to download our 10 Top Tips for Job Search Success.

If you need any support with your career planning or your next career move, please get in touch with me at mcgregor@consult.co.nz or 09 410 7235. I practiced law for eight years before joining the Consult team.

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