Changing Specialism vs. Career Change
As a lawyer, when you were approaching qualification did you spend time assessing your strengths, interests and motivations to identify which area of law you were best suited to within your legal career or did you leave all or part of this decision to fate?
Lawyers choose their legal specialism at an early stage of their legal career. For solicitors, the decision is made as early as the second year of their training contract. It is an extremely important decision which paves the way for a lawyer’s future career and therefore needs to be given careful consideration when the focus on securing a job upon qualification increases.
Despite the importance of this decision, when choosing their legal specialism it is not uncommon for lawyers to leave all or part of the decision to fate. Securing a job is of ultimate importance and less consideration is given to their choice of specialism. This is of course understandable, particularly in a challenging economic climate. Securing a job is crucial. However, this also means that it is not uncommon for lawyers to question their choice of legal specialism early to mid career. Their job has not quite turned out how they had originally thought and perhaps they wish they had spent more time considering different options as a trainee.
When lawyers start to question their career choices, they often become demotivated, unfulfilled or unhappy in their current role. The ‘Monday morning feeling’ creeps in and they find little personal reward in their working life, yet have invested a lot of time, money and effort into their career. Does this sound familiar to you?
If so, what happens now? Do you put up with your current role or do you take action and investigate making a change in your career?
Changing Specialism vs. Career Change
If you have decided to do something about it and take action, it is time now to consider your options. Perhaps an alternative area of law may suit you or are you considering a career change? Read on to discover what to do now.
I would suggest that there are many lawyers wanting to change direction within their legal career but prevent themselves from doing so for numerous reasons such as limited opportunities, decrease in pay as well as fear and lack of confidence. However, if you are demotivated in your current role and wondering whether you are better suited to an alternative area of law, are you just a little bit curious to find out whether a change in specialism is possible?
If curiosity is getting the better of you, start reviewing your legal career now and investigate how you can increase your job satisfaction, motivation and fulfilment at work. Put together a list of alternative specialisms of interest to you and start talking to lawyers working in those specialisms to find out whether an alternative area of law would suit you.
If you are wondering whether a career change is for you, it is really important to assess what you would like your career to include and whether a new career is the answer. Here are 5 steps you can take to assist in making your decision:
Who am I?
Think about what you would like your career to include such as skills and working environments that suit you.
Write a long list of career and job ideas and include your current role.
Start identifying careers and jobs from your list in step 2 which would best match ‘who you are’ as identified in step 1.
Identify relevant professionals and organisations associated with the careers and jobs identified in step 3. Investigate sources of vacancies and start networking to find out more.
Evaluate your best options to enable you to make an informed decision about whether a new career is right for you or whether a change in specialism is a consideration. Perhaps you have decided at this point that your existing role suits you adequately – this is still a possible option.
These considerations are going to take a bit of extra time and thought but this will be the best way to find out whether your career path should involve a career change or a change in specialism. Do some groundwork and make the most of this important decision to enjoy your career. Isn’t it far better for you to explore the possibilities of a career change or change in legal specialism than remain demotivated in your current role?
Tessa is a qualified solicitor and coach providing specialist career support for lawyers.