In my five years as a legal recruiter, I’ve heard every reason under the sun from lawyers wanting to move firms – some feel bored or stagnant, while others feel unappreciated or overworked. Sometimes, just becoming aware of another opportunity is enough to cause an existential career crisis.
But the best career moves involve moving towards something, not leaving something behind. It’s always best to take a step back and pre-determine a process to help you decide if you should be looking elsewhere, and if so, for what?
Here’s the process I recommend:
1. Assess and reassess your long-term goals
Some lawyers have a singular focus on their end goal – whether that be partnership, a move in-house or starting their own practice. Others place more value on making sure they’re getting their hands on the most interesting work out there.
To decide if you’re on the right path, you first need to ask yourself – the path to where?
2. Determine the most efficient route to your end goal
If you’re a professional indemnity insurance lawyer wanting to be a professional indemnity partner, this step will be simple. Which firms are on the best professional indemnity panels? Which ones will provide you with the best opportunities to continue to improve your technical skills and grow your client base?
For lawyers looking to move into a new practice area, or to make the switch to an in-house position or the bar, this can be a little more complicated. These lawyers will need to consider if they can transition straight into their chosen area or workplace, and if not, what is the best or closest stepping-stone?
3. Do a stocktake of your current role
Now that you have a clearer picture of your ideal career pathway, is your current role on that pathway?
Separately, what about your current role do you enjoy, and what would you like to be different in a new one? You might want to think about things like salary, mentorship, the type of work you’re doing, and your progression opportunities, but also your team members and whether your job just generally makes you happy on a day-to-day basis.
If there is something that makes you excited to get out of bed each morning, you don’t want to be moving to a new role that doesn’t offer it. Similarly, what do you dread and does the new opportunity require it?
4. Weigh the available opportunities against your current role
Once you’ve gone through steps 1 through 3, you should have a clear picture in front of you of whether any new opportunity is a worthwhile move for your career.
These decisions are significant in the context of your life as well as your career, so the final step is to do a side-by-side comparison to make sure this is the right move for you.