Legal Career Independence: Chart Your Path to Success

Legal career independence – to some, it implies the ability to set out as a solo practitioner, be their own boss, follow an entrepreneurial path as a legal professional. Others define legal career independence in a broader context – the power to chart their own course in their legal pursuits.

Regardless of your role within the legal profession -- if you're an attorney at a traditional law firm, an in-house general counsel, a compliance officer, or work in any of a number of other legal positions – asserting your career independence is a powerful way to fuel your career success. You are in the best position to define -- and create -- the path to achieve your professional goals. And there are a variety of activities you can pursue to do so.

Here are some examples of proactive tactics that can help you create career independence to advance in the legal profession: 

  • Participate in useful continuing legal education (CLE) classes and seminars. CLEs can help you learn more about a specific area of law and allow you to keep up with any changes in your field. They also provide a valuable opportunity to network with fellow legal professionals. Perhaps take classes on the business aspects of the legal field or attend legal practice management seminars to improve your business skills.

  • Build your network. Connect with others in your field through LinkedIn or other social media, bar association events and legal seminars. If you use social media sites, keep your pages updated and respond to posts from your connections in a timely manner.

  • Work with a mentor.mentor's knowledge and experience can help you understand your strengths, identify your growth areas and advance your career. Find an attorney or other legal professional who will give you this kind of one-on-one guidance and support.

  • Develop your soft skills. Improve your people skills by getting involved in your office, your bar association or other local organizations. Volunteer for positions and events that will enable you to work with a range of people and professionals.

  • Build your brand. Make sure that others in your organization and elsewhere know about the skills you offer to your clients and coworkers. Stay visible by participating in high-profile projects at your firm as often as possible and volunteer for leadership positions with industry organizations.

  • Keep up with technology. Master e-filing, practice management software, predictive coding, and eDiscovery methods, all of which are becoming increasingly important within legal organizations. Watch for legal tech trends and take the initiative to learn about emerging technologies.

  • Take smart risks. Achieving professional growth often requires some measure of risk. And it's likely you'll feel out of your comfort zone when it comes to making major decisions about your legal career. When job opportunities present themselves, do research by talking to network contacts who may know about the organization. Evaluate the risks and benefits offered by the position; and consider the potential long-term impact or outcome if you do choose to seize the opportunity. Gather as much information as you can and then make your decision with confidence.


For more legal career advice, visit Robert Half Legal's blog site.