At almost every step of your legal career, there is always going to be something new to strive for. It's important to track your progress to remain confident and motivated.
Step 1: Make a to-do list
Get clear about what your legal career goals are. I know I’ve said this before, but a to-do list goes a long way and helps you track your daily progress. Breaking your goals down into small manageable chunks will eventually get you to where you want to be. The legal industry as we know it is a marathon – the more we rush into making the decisions, the more difficult it is to keep track of our personal developments. Every partner was once a trainee and had to start somewhere. It’s imperative to have a tunnel vision of where you want to be, to identify the steps to make it happen.
Step 2: Self-reflect
You should reflect on your journeys monthly, bi-annually and annually, if possible. Just like tracking the revenue of a business, you need to invest in yourself by keeping track of your progress. One of the best tips I’ve been given during my professional and personal journey is to start bullet journaling. Writing things down can take the worries from your brain and down on paper. This can help you evaluate the steps you need to take to move towards your goals. Try doing this to feel more present in the moment. Remember, don't compare your journey to anyone else's. Everyone's legal journey is different. What you can do is take inspiration from someone’s role in order to evaluate the skills and experience you need to get there.
Step 3: Find a mentor
Seek out a mentor to guide you through your journey towards qualification. During university, my mentor provided an invaluable insight into her legal journey and day-to-day life. This was a great way to boost my confidence while allowing me to share my concerns and goals with someone who has been in a similar position. A mentoring relationship can be anything you want it to be - some mentors can offer you interview advice to prepare you for pupillage and training contract interviews. They can even offer you shadowing opportunities in court and other legal work experience!
Step 4: Look at the bigger picture
For you to track the progress of your goals, you must look at the bigger picture. I often find it overwhelming to envision the bigger picture, especially where lots of work is concerned. You can set yourself deadlines to ensure that you are making consistent progress. For example, before applying for training contracts, you can complete a table or spreadsheet of all the firms you wish to apply for, along with the requirements, information and deadline dates of each firm. This will allow you to see which firms match your skillset. Looking at the bigger picture can also help you identify whether your goal is achievable. Try to have realistic plans – attempting to become a partner at a firm within five years may be unrealistic in most situations. Allow yourself more flexibility and time – you don’t want to feel disappointed if you don’t reach a goal by a certain deadline.
All progress is good progress - no matter how small
A sure way to overcome the feelings of burnout is by celebrating small wins. If you look at each stage of your journey as a milestone of its own, you’ll remain motivated and eventually move towards the next step to reach your goal. Remember, your legal journey is a marathon, not a race!