The career path for attorneys has never been more challenging. While lawyer job dissatisfaction is nothing new, rapid changes in the legal industry create uncertainties for attorneys who plan to practice law for another decade or longer.
Increased focus on profitability and changes in the law firm business model impact every lawyer:
- Service partners who rely on work from other attorneys risk being de-equitized or asked to leave their firms all together.
- Senior Associates know that the path to partnership requires building a book of business, but many lack the skills they need to do so.
- Solos and lawyers in small firms face their own challenges in trying to balance the roles of legal practitioner, client generator and business manager.
- Even revenue-generating partners realize they are only as valuable as the clients they bring in today. The pressure to remain productive is intense.
The path going forward for law firms has yet to be paved. At the same time, there are also new opportunities to rethink the practice of law in response to changing market dynamics.
Lawyers cannot afford to stand still without reacting to the changes going on around them. This is not an associate problem or a partner problem or even a law firm management problem. It is a lawyer problem. Mid-career attorneys need to start thinking about what they want their practice to look like in a decade and begin now to plan for that future. This includes:
- Clarifying why they do what they do and what their specific personal and professional goals are.
- Analyzing the market to identify and validate what their practice will look like.
- Consider what changes they can make in the way they deliver legal services to better respond to changing market dynamics.
It is exciting and a little scary to be a lawyer in today’s market. Marketing, business development and practice management are no longer distinct disciplines. Those that thrive will be the ones who evaluate their careers from all three of these vantage points and develop the discipline and consistency to execute on a defined plan for long-term success.
Debra Baker is a journalist, turned lawyer, turned business owner focused on helping law firms and individual attorneys transition their legal practices to drive revenue in a rapidly changing global economy. She offers presentations, training and law firm strategic marketing and business development consulting services. For more information on how she can help your firm, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888.322.1226 ext. 701.