How Do You Create A Legal Career?
So you have decided that you want to do law, congratulations. Deciding to become a lawyer is the first and biggest step towards building a successful and fulfilling career. What is your career going to look like? Upon graduation, you can become a lawyer, but you might choose a different path, such as academia or legal careers in government and non-profits. It is essential to balance what you are passionate about with the type of your law career that will empower you financially to maintain a high quality of life throughout your career. The legal industry is a crowded and competitive one, but law careers offer a variety of paths that can potentially lead to being a lawyer, getting a legal job, or both. There are also many law career options if you have already found success as a lawyer.
The first step towards building a law career is the right law school. Law schools are legal education institutions with law programs in which prospective law students can enroll to receive their law degrees. Law school is where you begin to focus on what your career goals are. Law schools vary significantly in many ways, including their size, location, and availability between full-time and part-time studies.
After law school, you launch into your legal career. Law careers are law jobs that law students can choose to start their careers. Law careers require an advanced degree, such as a Juris Doctor (JD). When beginning your career, you may work part-time at first while building experience and maturity before starting your legal job or law practice with greater responsibilities. Your career can be legal jobs at law firms, corporate legal companies, or alternative careers like academics.
Before entering into the practice area, it is a good idea to have a legal career counselor evaluate your law degree and work experience to determine what type of law job you should look for. A career counselor can help law students explore the different career prospects that are right for them.
A legal career is an exciting prospect that opens up many doors for ambitious individuals who would like to become lawyers and/or enter into various practice areas. The primary path to building a reputable legal career is outlined below.
How Can You Be Successful In A Legal Career?
The top 10 best pieces of legal advice to build and maintain a successful legal career are as follows:
1. Create Job Leverage Every Day
You must have leverage if you want to control your legal career. It puts you in command of both the present and future. Why is having more power so crucial? Because a lack of it might lead to fear, worry, helplessness, and desperation, all of which can help you make poor employment decisions.
What is the most effective leverage in today's legal market?
For lawyers at law firms, it means developing a strong book of business, being a specialist in a specific field, having strong personal and professional connections, and being in command. Timing, scarcity, and necessity may also contribute to leverage.
Some of the same traits apply to in-house lawyers, but there are other strategies for this group to gain power. Developing a broad range of substantive abilities, obtaining a lucrative compensation package, becoming an expert in an up-and-coming field, attractive employers with well-branded identities, the appropriate seniority level, a strong network, and powerful “friends” are among them. It is also helpful to have a stellar reputation and an amiable character.
Without leverage, you will be forced to follow a reactionary career path, which might stifle your progress. So, keep working towards increasing leverage at all times. If you keep an eye on the market's pulse, you will always know how leverage is defined and how to construct it.
2. Do Not Let Fear Control Your Career Decisions
A lawyer's natural inclination is to evaluate risk constantly. While this is a valuable attribute of a competent attorney, it frequently fosters a fear-based mentality when personal and professional decisions are taken simultaneously. Fear, as we all know, is an adversary to excellent judgment. While it is an intense feeling, it is critical to keep your emotions separate from your decisions. In short, you cannot let fear run your life.
3. Understand the Changing Legal Profession and Adapt to It
This line of work is not what it used to be. And the playing field is continuously changing, which is unsettling for today's attorneys. Instead of burying your head in the sand and pretending that it was yesteryear, be proactive in understanding how this change will better prepare you to keep up with the career trends. How to do this? Here are a few suggestions: Contact legal recruiters, keep up with corporate, law firm, and lateral partner news, read the news, analyze the legal job search boards, join local executive/legal organizations, and attend events on current topics; also maintain touch with your network.
4. Learn to Communicate Effectively
We are not talking about creating a fantastic brief or drafting a killer agreement. This is about the language, tone, judgment, and messaging you employ when conversing with or writing to another person - at any time, for any reason.
Words are extremely effective. The tone is compelling. And the ability to utilize them might make all of the difference between getting the work or losing it, obtaining a raise or staying flat, retaining your customer, or losing it. Being brief and relevant is also an aspect of good communication and significant.
The majority of individuals are not naturally gifted in the art and skill of successful communication. It is something that must be learned, practiced, and honed. There is also a need for perseverance to maintain one's edge. As a result, make this a high priority on your list, and you will be astonished at the results.
5. Work Hard
Despite the cracks, the legal sector is one of the most particular vocations on the planet. Becoming a lawyer is not simple. The LSAT, three years of an American Bar Association-approved law school, then a grueling American Bar Association bar examination to determine one's eligibility to become an attorney (which may last three days), are the ultimate judge of one's legitimacy as an attorney. Even if you are not an attorney, working in the legal sector is demanding, and expectations are high. So why do so many people in so many countries put so much effort into preparing to become lawyers when the vast majority of law graduates do not practice law?
Anyone who has attained professional excellence, whether it be as an athlete, musician, chef, inventor, writer, humanitarian, must put in significant effort to get there and maintain their position. Lawyers are not immune. To learn the most academically, improve your writing, drafting, and negotiating abilities while also grasping business and customer issues inside and outside of your company in the best way possible, you must work hard. It does not imply that you cannot have a life. It also implies that you will have to manage your expectations and dispel the notion that you are entitled to a constant supply of "work/life balance" good fortune. If you do not, your ability, career paths, and compensation will reach their limits below the bar.
6. Set Goals, Create a Strategy, and Implement
Once an attorney joined a firm, their career path was mainly determined. There was not much of a need for professional development. You work your tail off, believing you can become a partner. Otherwise, this is the end of the story. This is not the type of legal job it is today. Because of new legal-employment possibilities, lawyers have more alternatives than they ever had before. As a result, the playing field has leveled for both attorneys and clients. So there are now more lawyers who can compete for work and clients. The legal profession is also more Darwinian than it was in the past. Those who cannot keep up are at risk of losing out. So, to optimize your success as a lawyer, you need goals. Your approach should be organized. And you must act. The objectives may range in duration from 2 to 4 years, but they are most often amended. So check yourself once in a while and make modifications as needed.
7. On Professionalism, Dot Your i's and Cross Your t's.
There is a disturbing trend in the legal business where professionalism and politeness are being lost. It may be aggravating and infuriating to be on the receiving end of such poor behavior. If you want to stand out from the crowd and boost your chances of professional success, buck the trend. How? Be honest, thank people for their time after interviews, pay them compliments and be responsive, keep appointments, act modestly proud, be polite and respectful to everyone you meet, be on time for commitments, say thanks, and do not waste people's time, do what you promise. There are a lot more things on the list (but not all). Be a nice person because the professional world has an infestation of mean people.
8. As a Professional, You Must Keep Developing
Whether you are learning new practice areas, improving your writing, building your brand, educating yourself on a new sector, or attempting your hand at public speaking, a professional who continues to learn and develop has more marketability, leverage, and overall happier life. What would you like to learn in the future? What piques your interest but makes you nervous about pursuing it? How can I develop my legal practice? Please create a list of what you would want to learn, and then go after it.
9. Continue to Develop Your High-Quality Network
We have all heard it a thousand times, and the reason we have all heard it a thousand times is that it is true. Those with the most remarkable connections gain competitive career advantages in the marketplace. They are referred to additional job possibilities, have more contacts, and run more successful businesses, and they can profit from more outstanding branding and reputation. Remember, a strong network is not only about "me." - It is suitable for the spirit to assist others. - Regardless of how robust or anemic your present set of professional pals is, it is critical to maintain your network vibrantly and relevant.
10. Stick to Your Values
You will come across many opportunities to compromise your principles throughout your career. Fear or other drivers may tempt you in the wrong direction as your profession undergoes significant change. However, maintaining your ideals is critical for long-term professional success. The legal job market is tiny, and even the tiniest mistake might result in serious harm. Furthermore, if you believe something to be correct or unfair, opposing it or not defending it will cause worry and unhappiness. If you encounter a situation where you are not sure, listen to your gut. It is your Jiminy Cricket on what is right and what is not.
A successful legal career requires a robust support system, an organized approach to your goals, and continuous development. What are you going to do to ensure that you have the best chance of success? The answer is not always clear-cut, but if there is one thing we can be sure about, think before acting. This advice applies whether you want to make adjustments at work or explore new practice areas altogether. We hope these tips will help get your plan on track - let us know how they worked for you!
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.