Clear and steady career progression through the ranks of a law firm is one of the biggest challenges a private practice lawyer will face. It can be particularly difficult for junior lawyers at top-tier firms, who are ‘competing’ for promotions against a large group of peers. Read our top four tips on how to fast-track your law firm career:
Progression prospects can be limited in large firms. A lateral move to a mid-tier or boutique practice can be a way to fast-track your private practice career. Lawyers in mid-tier firms often get exposure to the full life cycle of a transaction and have more direct client engagement, which is beneficial from a technical and career development perspective. Another advantage is that mid-tiers and boutiques can be more open to promotions – HR teams have streamlined recruitment processes and as a lawyer you are competing against a smaller cohort.
In order to progress, you need to stand out from your peers. One of the most obvious ways to do this is to engage in targeted, consistent business development activities with reputable clients. Most junior lawyers are technically gifted, but few are experts at relationship-building and communication.
Business development opportunities are rare for junior lawyers in larger firms, but we encourage lawyers to take them where they can
It might be obvious, but law firm hierarchies will always look at your billables when they are assessing your potential for promotion. It is likely that a lawyer consistently going above and beyond billable targets (and consequently generating revenue for the firm) will progress faster than someone who is struggling to make budget.
External business development is paramount to a lawyer’s progression within a firm, but internal brand awareness is just as crucial. Develop strong relationships with colleagues at your level, but also Partners across other areas. Put your hand up for extra work for other Partners if you have capacity – this will come back to reward you in the long term.
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