How to start preparing for your next legal job

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Planning a career move in 2018? Thinking about changing law firms?  (Don’t worry, we won’t tell…)

A job change is a natural progression in your professional life. But just thinking about changing jobs won’t make it happen. The transition from one field or firm to another takes focus, commitment, self-examination, and a set of goals to help get you there.

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Here are some things that will help set you up for success as you consider preparing for your next legal job.

Identify likes and dislikes

You can and should enjoy your work, but you don’t have to love your overall job to acknowledge that you like certain aspects of it. Start out by making a list of what you like and don’t like about your work. You can also speak to people who know you professionally to find out what they think your strengths are.

Try not to think too much about what these preferences mean. That will come later. Whether you realize that one of the tasks you most enjoy is making calls or that your favorite thing is eFiling, this will be useful information to know about yourself.

Highlight your accomplishments

When you are trying to attract potential employers, you are also laying the foundation for the types of positions you are willing to accept. Were you the lead paralegal on a multi-million dollar personal injury case? Did you create a filing system that saved your colleagues substantial amounts of time? Or did you assist your supervising attorney in preparing an appeal that prevailed at your state’s High Court?

Consider everything, large and small, that you’ve accomplished in this job when preparing for your next one, and keep a list that you can easily reference one week or one year later.

Pinpoint your strengths

Taking a look at past job performance reviews or supervisor recommendations can also give you some indication of what you excel at and the direction you might want to take in the future. Assessment tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential (MAPP) Assessment can also help point you in the right direction, based upon your strengths and personality type. The MAPP Assessment will even take your test results and match them to real jobs that might be a good fit for you.

Identify in-demand skills

Once you have a sense of who you are in the job market, you should get a sense of what essential skills legal employers are looking for and how your abilities align with them. You can use the internet and legal news and trade publications to get a beat on the direction your industry is moving and decide where you might fit in.

Consider working with a professional career coach or mentor who can give you information regarding current trends in the legal profession.

According to a Robert Half report, the paralegal job description continues to expand, and substantive legal work like research, trial preparation, and eDiscovery management – previously the responsibility of junior level associates – is being increasingly performed by paralegals.

Is education to learn a new skill not an option for you? Try to work on internal projects that will give you more time in these cutting-edge areas. Or look for opportunities to learn more in your professional association or friends in the industry.

Attend networking events

While networking just to say you networked is usually not effective, professional networking will enhance your resume as well as your confidence and network of connections. Even if you’re not planning to leave your current position right now, a new career path might open for you based on conversations you have at networking events.

Employers want people who come highly recommended by those in supervisory positions, and networking can provide you with that opportunity. Who knows. A chance meeting with an interesting person could mean something bigger down the road.

Dust off your marketing skills

Looking for a new job means revamping your resume by highlighting all your relevant skills and experience. You will also need to revisit your skills for effective cover letters, interview techniques, and salary negotiations so that you’ll be able to set yourself apart from the other candidates, find the ideal job, and get paid what you’re worth.

Not planning to leave anytime soon? Tracking your successes and cataloging your strengths and skills can help you feel better about your current position and your professional status in general. It may also encourage your law firm to take notice, and give you confidence to go after what you want more.


Do you know of other ways to prepare for a career move? Tell us about them in the comments!

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