''How Am I Doing?''—An Online Career Assessment Tool | BCGSearch.com

''How Am I Doing?''—An Online Career Assessment Tool


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Ed Koch served as mayor of New York throughout the 1980's and was famous for employing the phrase ''How'm I doin'?'' Throughout his administration, he would walk up to strangers on the street and pose this question. For a politician like Ed Koch, the answer was of course critical to his survival.
''How'm I Doin'?''—An Online Career Assessment Tool

When was the last time you took stock in your own career? Maybe no one can vote you out of office; but when was the last time you asked the lawyers and support staff that you work with for some honest feedback.

"How am I doing?" is actually a question that has two components. It is important to get feedback from our co-workers (support staff, fellow associates and partners) in order to grow. Formal and informal feedback helps us understand how we are perceived in an organization. It highlights for us the areas where we need to improve. It helps us gauge our long term prospects at a firm.

But self assessment, the second component of "How am I doing?", is equally important to your career success. It is healthy to take the time on a regular basis to ask yourself if you are building the career that you want.


Doing Well in Law School Can Delay the Day of Reckoning

If you have gone to a top law school and done reasonably well (or if you have gone to a second tier law school and graduated near the top of your class,) the chances are that you have ended up with a "great job" as an associate at a top law firm. Major law firms (and your career services office) made this easy for you. Through an elaborate on campus interviewing program, you had many potential employers to chose from. Without giving much critical thought, you were able to drop your resume in a number of boxes and employers then came to meet with you at your law school.

Through the on-campus interviewing process, you may have landed a job which suits your temperament, career interests and values. But there is also a reasonable chance that your first job has proven to be a mismatch. Because on-campus interviewing is a passive method of searching for a job, it takes away the need for you to think strategically about your career. Instead of forcing you to think proactively about what you want from your first job, on campus interviewing lets you choose from options which have been defined for you.


Regardless of How You End up in Your First Legal Job, Self-Assessment Is a Worthwhile Exercise

If you did not have the benefit of landing your first job through on-campus interviewing, the legal job search process may have forced you to be more reflective. Since employers did not come to campus trying to recruit you, you had to make more decisions about what kind of legal jobs you would pursue.

After a year or so, it is time to take stock in your experience. Whether you are working at a large firm that recruited you through on-campus interviewing, or a smaller firm that you sought out on your own, ask yourself some questions. Do you like your work environment? Do you respect your fellow colleagues? Are you getting the kind of work that you enjoy? Are you building the skills you will need in the future to do the work you like to do?

In order to make this an easier exercise, I have created an online career audit tool. This tool is designed to help you think critically about your law firm experience. It is intended to help you identify whether you have issues in your current firm and if so, are these issues serious enough to merit a lateral job search. The audit can be completed by clicking here.


Self-Assessment Will Be Most Effective if You Have Developed Some Defined Career Goals

Most career experts talk about the importance of setting career goals. Goals are like a destination on a map. If you do not know where you are going, it is hard to plot out a course to reach your destination.

Self assessment is a way of evaluating whether you are on course to reach your destination. It is a way to see whether you have chosen the right route to reach your career goals.

If, for example, you want to be general counsel to a technology startup, then evaluate whether your present firm will give you sufficient exposure to these types of clients.

Career goals can also relate to your work environment rather than the specific type of work. Perhaps your goal is to practice corporate law in a general sense; but your specific goal is to become a partner at a firm that places a premium on collegiality and work life balance. Ask yourself whether your current firm provides that environment.


The Career Audit Tool Can Also Be Used to Help You Create Some Longer-Term Career Goals

If you have been practicing for several years and still have no long-term career goals, the BCG Career Audit Tool can also help you to begin formulating your goals. Even if you are having a positive experience at your firm, developing some goals will help you in the event that there are unexpected changes at your firm.

The legal profession has undergone tremendous change in the past 10 years. Firms are continuing to merge and partner movement continues to be high. In addition, some very prominent firms have shut their doors in the last five years. What this means for you is that you can expect change. The firm you like and enjoy today may be very different tomorrow. If you have a good sense of your overall likes and dislikes, you will be better prepared to weather any unexpected changes and you will know when it is time to make a move. If you wait until a crisis hits, you will be making career decisions under duress.



Building a happy and successful career is an ongoing process. As you move through life, your goals may change. Getting married and starting a family, for example, may elevate the importance of income in your life. By the same token, a serious illness or seeing family members or colleagues getting sick may cause you to reevaluate how many hours you want to spend at work. Perhaps you will find that over time, your interests change.

The point is to make self assessment a regular exercise. Get feedback from those around you; but take the time to self reflect on your goals. Have your goals changed in any way? Then look at what you are doing to achieve these goals and measure whether you are on course. If you find that your goals and your actions are not aligned, don't be afraid to change directions. The stigma of job hopping is long gone from the legal profession.

The BCG Career Audit Tool is designed to help you self reflect on your law firm experience. It is not the only way to assess your law firm experience. Speaking to a professional can be very helpful in this regard. But it is a good starting point for measuring your overall degree of satisfaction with your current situation.

If you have any input on how we can improve upon this tool, please do not hesitate to contact me. At BCG, we are very committed to helping lawyers who want to build satisfying careers. Your feedback helps us to meet this goal-i.e. doing the best job we can to help you with your career.


About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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