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Planning Legal Career Paths

11.01.07 "I've heard a lot of talk about career paths - what should I be doing about this, and is it a good idea to plan 5 years in advance when working in a law firm?"
It is very hard to know what a legal career is all about when you start out in law. Firstly you achieve great things when you graduate from University with a law degree. 3-4 years of hard graft, and what do you get out of it? Another 3 years of hard graft! 1 year on the LPC followed by two years of training contract, which can involve working for peanuts and being asked to do jobs such as clean the solicitors' cars, or go and fetch the secretaries' lunch! Finally, after 6-7 years of slaving away results in you qualifying as a solicitor, and you wake up the following morning pleased with yourself. But what then - great you are a newly qualified solicitor? But where do you need to aim to from there?
Well it all depends on what your ambitions are. Sit down with a pen, and work out where you want to be in 5 years time. Do you want to have children, a steady income, a big house and a small mortgage, a partnership in a firm, or out of law and in another field? Do you want to be rich, mega rich, or just comfortable?
You then need to work out what you need to do in order to achieve these goals - do you need to stay in conveyancing working for a bucket shop so you establish a steady career and income, or do you need to start planning your own firm for once you have gained those three years of experience to be able to set up your own practice? If you want a big house and lots of money, it is important to plan earlier rather than later as to how you wish to achieve this - if you remain an assistant solicitor on £30k for too many years you would probably need to rob a bank in order to do this, which we do not recommend!
The answer to the question re career paths is yes - you should be planning out your career path - with aims and goals, and set out to achieve these. If you do not do this, you may find yourself stuck in a rut in future years, or going completely away from where you wanted to be.
Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - no.1 online legal recruitment agency - save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us! www.ten-percent.co.uk/register.htm

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