I recently wrote an article for the American Bar Association’s After the Bar blog, sharing one key task to complete before starting your first legal job (or at any point in your career, really). It’ll help you brainstorm and plan out your career path, one manageable step at a time. Check it out here (subscription required).
In case you don’t have a subscription, here’s a summary of what you should do before starting your first job (or anytime you need a career boost):
- Sit down and think about a job you’d like to have one day. No idea? Think about a job you want to learn more about.
- Write it down somewhere safe.
- Now think about one small thing you can do in the next six months to work toward or learn about that job. Write an article? Join a bar committee? Attend a networking event or set up an informational coffee date? Write that down under your big goal from item 2.
- Put two reminders in your calendar – one in three months to check in on your mini goal (item 3), and one in six months to check in on both goals. At the six-month mark, reassess your big goal. Still interested in this job? Think up another mini goal and mark it in your calendar for completion in 3-6 months.
- Repeat this process, so every 3-6 months, you’re creating a small goal and assessing your big goal. It’s ok if your goals change – the point of this is to help you figure out what you like and dislike and build up some experience and connections in your target job area.
- Write your goals down in one master list so you’ve got a visualization of your work and thought process, plus a handy reference when you want to update your resume to apply for jobs similar to your big goal.
Why do these things? So you don’t end up like so many attorneys I know who start their career in one job (usually a big firm) and decide to move on after a few years, only to think, “I don’t know what I want to do, and I don’t feel qualified to do anything but my current job!” If you follow these steps, you’ll be informed about what you want to do and have some evidence to back up that interest in your resume and during interviews.
Check out more career advice for new lawyers here.