Planning your next career move
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Planning your next career move. Presented by the Lawyers Assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher. When is it time to move on?. We prefer the security of a known misery, to the misery of an unfamiliar insecurity

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Planning your next career move

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Planning your next career move

Planning your next career move

Presented by the Lawyers Assistance Program

Facilitated by Robert Bircher


When is it time to move on

When is it time to move on?

  • We prefer the security of a known misery, to the misery of an unfamiliar insecurity

  • Step 1-Precisely what is the problem?-You need to asses the nature and causes of your discontent

  • Vague complaints like “I hate this job” or “I hate being a lawyer” are self perpetuating and useless

  • Is the problem part of the law firm culture you are in?


Culture problems

Culture problems

  • This is one of the most common problem areas

  • This includes issues about hours worked, billing pressure, personality conflicts, the firms story about itself (a good lawyer only works full time and starts at 7am,doesn’t take lunch etc.)

  • Another problem area is the type of law practiced-some lawyers actually hate conflict yet practice in litigation or other high conflict areas


Area of law

Area of Law

  • Some Lawyers crave excitement and drama but are doing solicitors work

  • Some lawyers are doing legal work that is against a core value. For example a lawyer that wants to help the average person ends up working for a firm that defends an insurance company that wants to make minimal payments to injured people


Career planning

Career Planning

  • Many lawyers are in the wrong place simply because they did little or no actual career planning-they went to law school, articled in a firm and did whatever the type of law the firm did

  • A majority of lawyers don’t actually seriously look at their careers for many years after they graduated, and even then only after they find themselves unhappy in their work


Getting out of the fog

“Getting out of the Fog”

  • “I could do any thing if I only knew what it was!!” is a common experience

  • Many lawyers seriously limit what they think they can do-the “myopic vision” effect

  • Some need a change of culture within the law, some may need to get into a quasi-legal career, some may need to leave law totally- What can you do with aLaw Degree? is a great book if you want to broaden your outlook


The business of law

The Business of Law

  • For quite a few lawyers the problem is the business part of law-billings, collecting money, time keeping etc.

  • This requires a shift to non billing culture-government-corporate culture-quasi legal jobs etc.

  • The bottom line is that your job must be congruent with who you are-your values, skills, personality, desires etc. This is called “assessment” and can be achieved through testing of various kinds


The break in the fog

The Break in the Fog

  • No amount of testing will give you much more than a general idea of what you want or where to go-you will end up with some ideas that you must go to the next level on

  • An idea must be followed up by action-the best action is networking or informational interviews (sample enclosed)

  • You must test your idea and find out how much of your “story” about your new career is matched by reality


Networking and informational interviews

Networking and Informational Interviews

  • You cannot think your way out of the fog-this an error many lawyers make

  • It is easier to act you way into a new way of thinking than to thinkyour way into a new way of acting

  • The best action is networking with others or informational interviews-you will then either be drawn toward or drawn away from your idea-both are progress

  • You may have noticed that we have not yet mentioned looking at job ads or applying for jobs yet


How to get a job

How to get a Job

  • After your assessment and research you have an idea as well as some basis in reality of what you are looking for

  • Needless to say knowing what you are looking for is very helpful in finding it

  • Where to spend your energy: 10% on published ads,85% on personal contact,5% on headhunters


Job parameters

Job Parameters

  • What self imposed limitations do you have-how do you box yourself in?

  • The main parameters-Money-(upper and lower limit) Geography- (law jobs tend to be geographically unequally distributed-markets vary wildly)

  • Prestige Power and Recognition- How much do you need? Many lawyers are not honest with themselves about this


Job parameters1

Job Parameters

  • “An Irrational Commitment to a Poor Choice” This is a phenomenon where lawyers refuse to make a change in spite of obvious dissatisfaction-”I am a criminal lawyer and always will be even though I never really enjoyed it”

  • You will always have parameters but if you are too picky it will be more difficult “I would rather be miserable and broke but live in Vancouver than move to Ft Mc Murray and make $200 thousand a year and pay less tax”


Effective job hunting tips and traps

Effective Job Hunting Tips and Traps

  • Warm contact rule: the greater the personal contact the greater the chance of success

  • Waiting for “something more interesting/better/ideal to come up-unless you are proactive you will wait forever

  • Putting excessive energy into thinking/worrying/obsessing and very little energy into actually looking for work

  • Not having your resume/cover letters ready to go


Tips and traps

Tips and Traps

  • Canceling yourself out by not applying at all-excessive modesty-not taking risks

  • Waiting too long in an unhappy situation hoping it will change or hoping to get used to an unhappy situation

  • The only useful approach is to take steps to change, accept or leave any situation-most people spend far too much time obsessing or trying to think their way out of their present situation


Transitions and fears

Transitions and Fears

  • Life is endless transition-nothing ever stays the same for very long-resisting transitions creates unnecessary suffering

  • There will be an ending, a neutral zone and new beginning to any transition (Bridges)

  • It is normal to have fears and doubts throughout the process

  • Fear of change is normal but is often made worse by cognitive distortions( I will never get a new job because of X)


Transitions and fears1

Transitions and Fears

  • You have made it so far and lawyers are all talented, intelligent, highly skilled people and have many more options than they think

  • We live in a boom time with high demand for legal talent

  • Your fears about not getting a good job are almost always unfounded

  • Lawyers who have made transitions are almost always happy about it after the change has been made


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