What Happens When My Career Plan Is Really An Excuse?

As a former Biglaw associate turned legal recruiter, I feel déjà vu on a daily basis. Associates will confidently tell me their plan or timeline to prove that they don’t need to speak with a recruiter about their career, or that I can try them back in “like a year or two.” Their way of thinking always hits close to home because I used these excuses too. I now understand how detrimental those excuses can be for your career. So, I decided to write this “Excuse Series” to expose the most common excuses I hear, explain the fallout of relying on each excuse, and motivate you to evaluate your career path now, so you can make informed decisions about your future.

How Can Mindfulness Benefit Me as an Attorney?

We live in an age in which the concept of "mindfulness" is ubiquitous. Psychology Today explains "mindfulness" as: "[A] a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future." https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness 

Thinking about In-house? Here’s a Road Map

“In-house” is a catch-all phrase that commonly refers to all non-law firm legal roles. With that phrase in mind, I wanted to provide an overview about not only the most prevalent in-house positions but also the most desirable experience.

I Love My Job, But Can I Get My Life Back?

There are innumerable benefits to working in Big Law, but for all those benefits there is usually a price as well.  Is it truly possible to create balance in your life and still reap all the benefits Big Law offers?  

My Rotation is Over – Now What?

Completing the rotation system/unassigned period is one of the most important milestones for young lawyers as the decision about which group to join will have long-term implications for their career. While there is no right or wrong answer, these decisions should be made carefully and with the necessary forethought on your part.

The Inside Scoop on Client Secondments

In the legal industry, a client secondment usually refers to the “lending” of a law firm associate to one of the firm’s clients for a finite period of time. Generally, the secondment comes about when a client makes a request of the partner with whom they have a relationship. 

Succeeding In A Free Market System

A free market system is one in which associates have control over the projects and assignments they take on. This stands in contrast to those systems in which an assigning partner or practice group manager distributes incoming work. 

SJL Talk: Ep. 1

Welcome to SJL Talk.  We know you're billing by the hour, so we'll keep it brief.  Today, Senior Managing Director Elizabeth Lazzara Smith talks annual career self-evaluations, and thinking about your career in terms of the past, the present and the future.  

It's Q4. I'm A Junior Associate.

Q: What should I be focusing on? A: It’s a common misconception that your first years at a firm should be spent focusing primarily on getting work, and getting it done. That’s simply not the case. This is especially so in Q4: your managers are making assessments of your performance, and you should be doing the same of theirs, as well as your own. 

So I'm A Finance Attorney...

Q: What are the “sells” of my specialty? 
A: Finance offers broad exposure to a range of commercial issues as well as substantive transactional and advisory responsibilities that will make you a strong attorney. At the same time, it’s a narrow enough area of law for you to get your arms around in order to feel like an expert in your craft. 

What are the Do's and Dont's for Working Successfully With a Recruiter?

No confident, well-respected recruiter will pressure you into a decision that doesn’t make sense for you. That potential short-term gain would be detrimental to the recruiter’s long-term reputation and continued success. So, if you are working with a leading recruiter, be open and honest, knowing that the recruiter will be the same with you.

Does Undermarket = Underpaid?

Does being “undermarket” mean you’re underpaid? Not necessarily. But to make that determination, you need to fully understand what you’re stepping into (and the tradeoffs you’re making) and the landscape of this new market that you’re in.

I Don't Want to Practice as a Lawyer Anymore...What Now?

I won’t lie to you: finding your professional “happily ever after” is a journey. It was for me, and will be for you, too. That said, I’m writing this article because this is a topic so rarely addressed, and because I want you to know that you’re not alone, and that you do have options.

Should I Consider Exploring the Market Even If I'm Happy at My Firm?

Exploring the legal market and discussing your career aspirations does not necessarily entail leaving your current platform. Rather, think of it more as an opportunity for you to learn whether or not you’ve given yourself the best perch from which to stay competitive with your peers and to move ahead in your career and overall life goals.

Does Your Partner Mentor Have Enough Juice to Promote You?

If you really want to maximize your chances of achieving partnership, you also need to be strategic about who you hitch your star to. A critical part of what you should be thinking about is whether your partner mentor has both the ability to get you promoted, as well as the inclination

So, You Want to Be a Partner?

To become a partner, being an outstanding associate–one who has technical talent, a strong work ethic, adroit client management skills and a likeable personality–is necessary. But it isn’t sufficient. Many law firms have more stellar senior associates than they could ever promote.

So, You Want to Move Closer to the Business Side...What's Your Plan?

“I want to move to the business side…” is a very common response from law firm associates. I can’t tell you how many times we speak with associates who were deciding between law school and business school and now they want their next professional move to be further away from law, and closer to the corporate side. 

How Do I Chart My Career Trajectory?

I have recently been speaking to many 2nd/3rd years about their careers and the value one has in charting a career path as early as a 2nd or 3rd year. I do not mean to suggest that if you haven’t figured out which direction you would like your career to move in by this point that you’re doomed, but it never hurts to start thinking about these issues early in your career and to focus your attention on getting the skills you need to be successful and take control of the direction of your career.