Changing jobs: Deciding where you want to land

By John Allison 

You may have decided it is time to leave your current job and find somewhere else to practice law. Before starting your search for a new job, take time to clearly understand the reasons you want to make a change.

You may also find it helpful to spend some time imagining what your “dream job” would look like. As you prepare for your job search, consider asking yourself questions such as these:

- What do I like about my current job?

- What do I dislike about my current job?

- What specifically would I like to change?

- Do I feel my professional growth and development are stifled where I am?

- Are some of my colleagues difficult to work with, and why do I find them difficult?

- Do I feel that my current law practice is meaningful and personally fulfilling?

- Do I want to move into a different practice area?

- Do I want to have the opportunity to represent a different clientele?

- Are work/life balance issues getting in the way of my professional satisfaction?

- Do some of my friends seem happier in a different law practice environment, and would that environment be suitable for me?

Your answers to these questions will help you focus your job search on the opportunities that will be most likely to improve your professional satisfaction.

Once you begin your job search, remember that your resume and cover letter should be written to maximize the chance of obtaining an interview. During the interview try to find out as much as you can about the firm’s culture and expectations, and about the opportunities that will be available to you.

As you meet people in the firm notice whether they seem happy and whether you connect with them. Also notice whether they treat each other with respect. 

Finally, learn as much as you can about the culture and values of the firm, whether it’s a law firm, a business enterprise, a government agency or a nonprofit organization. Talk with other people such as friends, law professors and other lawyers. 

An online search can reveal valuable information about the culture, values and reputation of the firm.  Be sure the firm has a good reputation, and that the firm’s culture is compatible with your values.

John Allison is a professional career coach backed by years of experience as a successful lawyer. He is the founder of The Coach for Lawyers and author of "The Art of Practicing Law: A Practical Guide for Lawyers."