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Tips to progress your career

30th August 2016

There is no need to keep changing jobs every two or three years to try and advance your career as it is highly likely that your current legal firm can offer you opportunities that you haven’t yet tapped into.

However, if you feel that you are stuck in a rut at work and you think your career might be stalling then you need to take note of our practical tips to help you continue progressing your career.

Everybody needs a mentor

A mentor at work

No matter whether you have recently started a legal job or have been working for a law firm for a few years you need a mentor.

Suzanne Lucas, who runs the Evil HR Lady site, said, “Everybody needs a mentor. Most people want to find the most powerful, capable person they can to be their mentor. However, this person may not remember what it's like to be in your shoes.

“A good mentor can help you identify shortcomings in your life, and gaps in your career. A mentor that's too senior may have literally forgotten what it took to get to where she is today.

“It's vital that your mentor is close enough to where you are in your career that she remembers and can help guide you through those parts. It's also vital that the relationship is business focused. Your father-in-law may be a great attorney, but can he really tell you when you're making a stupid career decision without causing family disharmony?”

Linda Allen, who is the editor and owner of Ms Career Girl, added, “Mentor.  Volunteer.  Be willing to help those who are struggling or who just need a hand become better and more confident.  You'll find that you benefit as much as they do.”

Demonstrate your aspirations

Linda Allen of Ms Career Girl says that it is important to show your boss that you want to work your way up the ladder and not to just tell them that you do.

She said, “Don't just say what you aspire to be or achieve, act in such a way today that demonstrates your aspirations.”

Keep the aspirations of other people in your mind

Linda Allen, who has not just been in management but is now an entrepreneur, says that another thing she looks out for in people she works with is the fact that an employee should keep the needs and interests of other people in front of them.

She said, “Always keep the needs and interests of the other party clearly in front of you. Whether it's your employer or a customer, your credibility and attitude will get you much farther in the long run than a current-moment focus on your pay check or commission ever will.”

Make sure management see your good work

Management should see your good work

It is important for people working as lawyers and in other legal jobs to make sure that their managers realise the good work that they are doing and understand that they want to be rewarded for going above and beyond.

It is common for employees to just think their bosses realise what a good job they are doing and will automatically acknowledge this.

If you really want to advance your career then you may have to ask for what you want as your manager is not a mind reader. Sitting quietly and waiting to be recognised is not always the best way to get a promotion.

Build relationships

Build relationships

It is vital to build long-lasting relationships with clients and colleagues and this can be achieved by firstly showing them that you are doing great work and have a great understanding of the law as well as impressing them with your personality.

In an article on the Law Gazette, Browne Jacobson partner Marlene Henderson explained that young lawyers that impress her are the ones that take a long-term approach to building relationships with clients.

She said, “Too many young lawyers believe that technical skills alone are enough to be successful. The junior lawyers that really stand out are those that never lose sight of the fact that “how” the work is delivered is as important, if not more important, as “what” work is delivered. The “how” is absolutely what sticks in a client’s mind.”

The law is a close-knit profession so try to make as many friends as possible and not enemies as you are sure to cross paths with the same people at different times in your career.

Pursue goals that you want to achieve

Pursue your goals


Before you set your goals for your career you should try to test their viability by checking that they are “Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioural and Agreed upon”.

If your goals involve other people then you need to check with the people involved that your goal is realistic and is a great idea.

Get your work-life balance right

Finally, another key factor in progressing your career is to establish a successful work-life balance and you will need to learn how to achieve this balance.

If you are constantly working late and do not have a life outside of work then this can actually affect your career in a negative way as employees that follow this practice can often get down and depressed.

It is important that you have leisure time and have fun outside of work where you can relax and unwind.

Image Credit: EDHAR, TATSIANAMA, Shutterstock.