March 09, 2015 Articles

Making Your First Lateral Move

By Laura B. Bacon

So you are finally a lawyer . . . what's next? You graduated from law school and passed the bar exam. You landed your first job practicing as an attorney. You have focused on doing great work and gaining as much experience as possible. And now you wonder—where do I go from here? For as long as you can remember, graduating from law school, passing the bar, and finding a job was your “finish line.” You may have given little thought to what comes next. (I know I didn’t.) But lately you have been scanning the job postings that often hit your inbox, many looking for someone with “3–5 years of litigation experience.” You are asking yourself, is it time to make a move? Follow these four steps to guide your decision-making process.

Take Stock of Where You Are
The best place to start is by conducting a thorough self-assessment and asking yourself several questions about your current position. In recent years, the dearth of job prospects for new lawyers has been widely publicized. Many young lawyers may have been forced to accept a job to pay the bills (and the ever-mounting student debt burden) rather than having the luxury of waiting for the “right” position to come along. Start by asking yourself, am I happy in my current job? Do I enjoy the area of law I am practicing in? Is it intellectually satisfying? Am I comfortable with the amount of money I make? Are there opportunities for advancement? Will this position or this employer be able to fulfill my long-term career goals? If I choose to start a family, will this position allow me to spend as much time with my children as I would like? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, look no further. Contrary to what some might tell you, staying in the same position on a long-term basis is not necessarily a bad thing, if you feel that it will continue to be enjoyable and rewarding 10 years down the road.

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