The Business of You
Career conversations, career alignment & coaching for partners, aspiring partners & senior lawyers
"What does a successful legal career look like?"
Having helped craft and witnessed the careers of thousands of lawyers in the Brisbane market over 20+ years I have a unique and intimate understanding of lawyers, law firms and legal career management.
Unfortunately, I have observed far too many instances where career choices have been made for ill-considered reasons, where the repercussions have reverberated through careers & lives. This is why the legal market is littered with stressed & depressed souls, broken families and illusory wealth.
But I have also witnessed that those lawyers who are most happy and content do not arrive there by accident, rather they are mindful at focusing on what matters most in life, not just their career. Critically they share a commitment to their self-care, loving relationships and financial wellbeing as an enabler to their career success, not a victim of it.
From these experiences I became highly curious about helping lawyers solve the riddle of, "What does a successful legal career look like?"
This is why The Business of You was developed. To create a guiding career management framework and a unique environment in which objective, goal-focussed and commercially grounded career alignment conversations could be had; where the focus of the conversations were about the individual and their personal idea of success and what makes them happy; career conversations that enabled clarity, perspective and alignment with what matters most so that good decisions can be made about how and where to carve out a sustainable, high performing, successful career in the law.
In today's rapidly changing legal market there has never been such a variety and volume of career opportunities unfolding for good lawyers, particularly senior lawyers with a portable practice and a good business case. Whilst this is exciting and empowering, it has also significantly increased the risk of making bad career decisions meaning the need for alignment is even more acute.
Finally, and significantly, The Business of You is unique in the legal market because it is a fee-for-service model, distinguishing itself from the biased, transactional, sales-driven 'career advice' given in the recruitment market. If you don't pay for the service, you are the product to be sold.
Musings on legal careers, the law & the things that matter most
In today’s rapidly changing, increasingly diverse legal market, the need for lawyers to adroitly manage their career has never been more acute. No longer can a lawyer assume their career will unfold as it once used to. The successful ones will be those who realise the need to be an agile, commercially savvy, financially literate, human-centred business-of-one.
And too frequently overlooked is that 'career management' is only one realm of The Business of You. Only when there is clarity around what is important to the whole of The Business of You can you make astute decisions about how, and where, you will find your career niche in the law. And if you don’t, the legal market has shown, time and time again, that you face the genuine prospect of becoming part of its human litter.
Career Alignment & Coaching
We are happiest and most successful when we are aligned with what is most important to us personally and professionally.
Every lawyer is on their own journey.
What does success look like to you? Are you clear about what your career and life goals are? Are you achieving success in the areas that matter most?
Law firms shy away from these types of discussions with their lawyers prefering to engage coaches for remedial problems, usually performance related. And often lawyers themselves are so consumed by the busyness of their roles that they forget the very important process of pausing and seriously reflecting on where they are with their careers, their practices and their life goals despite often feeling unhappy, unmotivated and unsettled, by default "punching on" in silence. Unfortunately for some lawyers it often takes a significant career or life event to jolt them from their apathy, having suddenly lost their compass the work of self-reflection, evaluation and re-alignment becomes reactive and emotionally charged, making it harder. Often bad career and life decisions are made when this happens. But it shouldn't be allowed to get to this point.
Those happiest and most successful lawyers and leaders I know are the self-aware ones who maintain the rhythm of regularly 'checking-in' with their personal and professional goals, making adjustments they feel necessary perhaps, for example, the velocity or trajectory of their career to better reflect their stage of life or changed perspective. It is, after all, your career and life to own. Your personal story of success to write. If you don't write it, someone will write it for you.
Is this for Me ?
Successfully navigating a legal career can be challenging, particularly for partners, aspiring partners and senior lawyers whose lives and careers become more complex with time. For these lawyers, the stakes are always higher.
The issues set out below reflect the types of conversations I have on a day-to-day basis, helping lawyers determine if they are where they should be in their career.
Equity Partner, Owner
You’re an equity Partner, business owner.
You probably have a spouse or partner, and children.
You’re a high performer.
You have considerable financial commitments, in the form of home, business or investment debt.
You deal with school fees, you have wealth accumulation & retirement goals, not to mention lifestyle needs.
You’ve been unsettled or unhappy at work for some time now. Possibly for a range of reasons which might include internal politics, misalignment of values, questionable firm strategy or financial management.
You may not feel equity structure and value is fair, be experiencing a lack of life balance, diminished autonomy could be a factor.
You would gain value from hearing an objective perspective about your career, your practice and whether you really are where you want to be in this phase of your career & life.
You may feel like work & life have become a soul-destroying slog, with no end in sight. Is this how you thought success would feel?
You might be looking at your peers and wondering, “Am I where I should be?”
Friends and family say you need a change. Something new – anything different.
You may be questioning whether you’re earning what you should be.
You may feel like your career is heading in the wrong direction. Yet, you can’t quite place why?
You may be feeling direct or indirect stress from the pressure of weighty performance targets, and be longing for something more reasonable.
You’re not actively out there, looking for a new role with another firm. Yet, you feel like you need a change and a new direction. You’re thinking about new environments and a new challenge.
You wonder what other types of firms offer personally and professionally. You seek a balanced assessment of their pros and cons.
You wonder what’s required to be an equity Partner at a different firm, and you’re curious what they earn.
You’re unclear about your value in the market, and whether or not you’re being rewarded properly.
You may be craving more control over the direction of your life and career, but unsure what that place looks like, or whether it’s even possible to get there.
Your motivation and performance have waned. You want to refocus on what’s important in your life, and in your career.
You want to transition from a major firm to a smaller firm, and you’re trying to assess the risks and rewards, both professionally and personally.
You’ve been headhunted directly by another law firm or agency and you’re wondering if it’s the right career opportunity for you.
Salaried Partner, Director
You’re a Salaried Partner, Director.
You may have a partner and children.
You are earning up to $400,000.
You’ve begun to build a client following and a practice around you - your Business of One.
You may aspire to have greater autonomy. More control over the shape and direction of your career, but you’re not sure how to get there.
Your health, family and wealth are important to you, as is high performance.
You wonder what other types of firms can offer, personally and professionally. You’d like to weigh the pros and cons.
You wonder what’s required to be an equity Partner at different firms, what they earn, and how you measure up.
You think you would benefit from a strategy and some “skilling up”, to help you achieve equity Partnership.
You aspire to become an equity Partner in your current firm, but you’re not really sure if it’s the firm you want to invest your career in; do you stay, or do you go?
You know you don’t want to be an equity Partner in your current firm and wonder how you might achieve it somewhere else. What’s the right timing for a move? How will you be valued elsewhere, and how to best transition your practice?
You may want to earn more money. You’d like to know where, and you’d like to know how.
You may need some help in growing your practice - your Business of One, so you can increase your market value.
You’re frustrated. You’ve been told on several occasions that you’re on track for equity Partnership. The goal posts keep changing, and you’re questioning your next career move.
You may be a very happy Salaried Partner. Yet, you wonder how you can achieve greater satisfaction from your career. Thinking perhaps an alternative environment is the answer?
You’ve thought about transitioning from a major firm to a smaller firm. You’re weighing professional and personal risks against possible rewards.
You’ve been directly headhunted by another law firm or agency, it sounds good but you’re wondering if it’s the right opportunity for you.
You may be wondering whether an in-house career move would be good for you.
Senior Associate/ SC
You want to craft a successful career path, in tomorrow's market.
Your health and wealth, and your friends and family are important.
You’re not inspired or motivated by some of the Partner "role models" around you.
You’d like to understand how you can achieve Salaried Partnership or Equity Partnership, and how KPI’s differ between firms.
You would value some coaching and mentoring, to help you achieve Partnership.
You feel you haven’t been promoted quickly enough, and that you’re deserving of Partnership. You’d like to know your options.
You are not getting the recognition, title, status that you deserve.
You feel stressed, overworked and undervalued. You’re wondering how you’ll ever get ahead.
You are unsure of what Partnership really is, and what it means to be a Partner. The sacrifices required, the risks and rewards it presents. Is it worth it?
You think you want to transition to a career outside of private practice.
The Business of You Career Alignment Framework
Please feel free to download my career alignment framework here. I hope you find it of value.