May 30, 2013
There are three main types of career plans that we recommend attorneys have:
Long-term: This is what you see for yourself maybe 10 years down the line or even possibly retiring from. Imagine you are at your retirement party about to give a speech. What are you retiring from? Realistically, only 5% of our clients have this kind of a plan. That said, to the extent you know someday you want to be a judge or have your own practice, the sooner you know and can start building towards it, the better.
Mid-range: This approach asks you to plan 3-5 years out. It asks you to think through what’s your next step might be. Keep in mind, your next step does not necessarily need to be a new job. It might be identifying what level of skill or responsibility you want to be at. For example, if you work at a law firm, do you want to ascend the ranks and make the transition to mid-level associate or do you want to consider transitioning in-house. It is important to know what your next career step is because it can inform where you currently are and the choices you are making. Ideally, where you are now should tee you up successfully for where you want to be next.
Immediate: An immediate or short-range career plan is an absolute must. And it is really as simple as identifying what your most important career priority is for the current year. You can start your “year” whenever it makes sense for you– maybe after a review cycle; maybe in September after the summer; maybe in January utilizing a calendar year; etc. What is something that by the end of one year you want to make sure you will have checked off your list. It may be learning a new skill or doing a certain number of projects. It might be having a new expertise. It may even be having a mid-range that makes sense for you.
Many attorneys view career planning as a luxury–something they just do not have time for. We view it as a critical tool for your career success. So the next time you find yourself making an excuse to not sit down take an hour here or there to plan your career out, ask yourself this question: “Why would I actively not want to be successful in my career?”