DGP Legal Blog


  • Emma O'Neill
  • Friday, June 15, 2018
Blog Image - Tips & Tricks on building a successful legal career!

Whether you are a trainee secretary, law student or senior associate having an informed career plan is essential to feeling engaged with your work and to achieve all round success!

The legal industry is a small and highly networked sector where an individual’s reputation, employment history and professional connections are key! Career-minded individuals do their best to avoid making decisions in haste, without adequate investigation or without looking at the long-term implications to their career. As such, we recommend creating a plan to guide your decision making and help you build and maintain a career which is entirely in your control.

Identify what you want

What makes you happy and fulfilled on a professional level is completely unique however, the universal qualities of feeling engaged, valued and appropriately remunerated are what the majority of workers strive for. These qualities are broad and can change at different times in your life, so we recommend identifying what style of working environment makes you the happiest and the most productive before each potential career move. This could be the size of the team or firm you work at, flexibility and work/life balance, the complexity of work, degree of client interaction in your role, level of mentoring or freedom to work autonomously and even the importance of being part of a social workplace.  Understanding the particulars around what makes you happy and able to perform will help you avoid making poor career decisions.

Leverage in your career

Leverage is a key component in managing your career and career choices that pop up along the way. For a private practice lawyer your ‘leverage’ will likely come down to being an expert in your practice area and having solid relationships both personal and professional. For a law student, this could be excellent academic results and internship experience or for a secretary, your leverage may be in the form of solid employment tenure, a fast typing speed and experience supporting at Partner level. However, with this being said there are many other factors that will give you leverage that are out of your control such as timing and need.

Despite market trends, employers are always looking for candidates who have a stable working history, a proven track record of success and are team players. Throughout the various stages of your career, always consider your worth and focus on building a portfolio for yourself that will increase success.

Research and seek advice

The legal profession as many others is not what is used to be and it is essential for legal staff to recognise and respond to changes in market and profession as a way to ensure they adapt and remain relevant. There are a few ways to do this, so you can remain on top of your game: reach out to recruiters (they have up to date knowledge and a wealth of experience); keep updated with the news; read and review job boards and a big one these days is simply networking, with LinkedIn, industry specific online groups and many other forms of professional platforms it is a great way to connect with other industry professionals and stay in the loop. Those with the best networks unarguably have more of a competitive edge and advantages in the market.

Effective communication

You would have heard it before but COMMUNICATION IS KEY. It’s not just the words you use or your excellent vocabulary that determines a true communicator it is also tone and delivery and the ability to convey the same message in the same way both verbally and written. Communication can be a deal maker or breaker throughout your career, it can singly determine if you get a job offer or not; keeping or losing a client. The skills of communication come easily to some however, for others it is something that need to be learned and practiced. Communicating effectively is easiest when you follow the above steps to know what you want, what sets you apart and what your competition is likely to be.

These tips and tricks do in no way capture everything you will need to consider throughout your career however it does give you great insight into what you need to do and actions to take to stay on top of your game and remain relevant.