Should I Consider Exploring the Market Even If I'm Happy at My Firm?
At first blush, it might seem counterintuitive to explore the legal market when things are going well at your current platform. After all, why mess with a good thing, right? I often speak with associates who decline to consult with a recruiter, stating that they are happy where they are and are “not looking to make a move.” If you count yourself among these associates, you might be missing out on broader benefits that could enhance your careers.
Importantly, 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. Indeed, there are several reasons why it is prudent and worthwhile to educate yourself about the legal market and industry precisely when you’re happy and are not itching to make a move.
Being Aware of Options Keeps You Ahead and In Control
In my early years as an attorney, I assumed that law firms were largely fungible. Subsequently, I learned that this is far from the truth. Firms can vary greatly in some relatively conspicuous respects (e.g., size, resources) and in some less conspicuous respects (e.g., culture, client mix, exit opportunities, partnership prospects). Oftentimes, it isn’t until I discuss the variables with an associate and the associate meets with attorneys at different firms, that the differences truly become apparent to him/her. Even if you are doing well at your current firm, you owe it to yourself and to your hard-earned career to be informed about whether, given the diversity of firms in the industry, you are at a platform that maximizes both your professional satisfaction and your ability to attain your goals. This knowledge keeps you aware and in better control of your career and your life.
Keeping Up With Your Peers
It is critical that you not fall behind your counterparts at other firms in your experience and skills. More likely than not, you will eventually eye an opportunity coveted by many of your peers. In order to be competitive for desired opportunities, you want to be sure that your training and experience will be as strong, if not stronger, than those of your peers. It therefore pays to talk to a recruiter and to make a conscious effort to know whether you are getting the training that will maximize your opportunities down the road. This not only involves learning about the training provided to attorneys at other firms, but also could involve meeting with them through interviews and asking yourself whether your experience is on par with theirs. That way, you will be in a position to determine on a much more informed basis whether you’re in a good place in your career.
Contentment Allows for Clarity
Ordinarily, it is easier to exercise good judgment when we are in a good frame of mind. You are more capable of recognizing a great opportunity when you are not attempting to flee from your firm, at which time almost anything might appear better. Remember: exploring other firms does not mean that you must move from where you are. But at least if you choose to stay, it will be a genuinely informed decision. And that will only enhance your happiness at your current firm.