5 Questions to Ask to Boost Your Legal Career 

By Jamy J. Sullivan, JD

There’s no better way to start the new year than with a resolution to live your best life. While we can’t advise you on a weight-loss plan or prod you into exercising more, we can help you conduct a career audit and set professional goals. 

 

The 2019 Robert Half Legal Salary Guide is a helpful resource as you undergo self-examination. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that the extensive research in the Guide can help answer: 

 

1. Am I happy in my current role? 

Do you look forward to Monday morning, or does the prospect of returning to work every week fill you with dread? Top legal candidates are in high demand in today’s economic climate of low unemployment, and you have career choices — especially if you’re a legal professional with three to seven years of experience and require minimal training to start contributing.  

 

Rate your level of happiness. If you love your job on most days, then all you need may be a few tweaks — perhaps tackling a new project or mastering a technical skill — to reach your desired level of professional happiness. But if you don’t enjoy your work or the office environment, it could be time to start a job search. 
 
2. What would I rather be doing professionally? 
One of the great things about the legal field is all the options open to you. According to the Salary Guide, the sectors seeking experienced attorneys most are: financial services, healthcare and pharmaceutical, manufacturing, professional services, and technology. As for practice areas, we are seeing high demand in litigation, business/commercial law and real estate. If you have a background in any of these areas or if your skill set is applicable to them, there’s a good chance you can find a new position that appeals to you. 

 

3. Should I consider going solo? 

Imagine being your own boss — making your own hours and choosing what projects to work on. If you’ve ever been tempted to set out on your own, now is a good time to explore options as a legal consultant. A survey for the 2019 Salary Guide asked legal employers, “What types of legal work do you plan to outsource to attorneys on a project or contract basis?” The top responses were litigation support (83 percent) and legal research (64 percent), followed by document review (37 percent) and contract work (30 percent). You can have a fulfilling career as a solo practitioner to handle investigations, take on projects and offer advice. 

 

4. What skills do I need to land a rewarding legal job? 

The legal world is evolving at a fast pace, both the field itself and the technology that practitioners use. Consider boosting your knowledge in these hot areas: 

 

  • Regulatory compliance — Many corporations expect their regulatory burden to increase in the near future. To help meet that need, get to know the latest issues around data privacy and government regulations, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act. 
     
  • eDiscovery — The amount of data that’s open to investigations is vast, and law firms need staff who can find, collect, process, code, analyze and review electronic data using the latest tools. If this work is outsourced, employers want someone in-house who can oversee the process. 
     
  • Business experience — Legal departments across the U.S. and Canada are bringing some work back in-house. That means legal professionals with expertise in contract administration, litigation support and commercial transactions could land a great job in a general counsel office. 

 

5. Am I getting paid what I’m worth? 

So 2019 is the year you’ll ask for a raise. But how much? It’s not easy to put a price tag on your work history and skill set. However, the 2019 Legal Salary Guide can give you a good idea of how much you should be making in your local market. You can also use our Salary Calculator to quickly get wage ranges customized for your city. 
 
A fresh new year could mean a fresh new legal job or a salary increase — or both. But before you make your move, conduct a career audit with the Robert Half Legal Salary Guide at your side.