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It's not uncommon for law firms, or any type of business for that matter, to just ignore their employees' career development. So long as a law firm is profitable, the status quo is maintained, and employee retention is not a big problem, then businesses have very little incentive to invest in career development.
If you're in a firm that doesn't seem to care whether or not your career develops or stagnates, you may want to heed the advice of the experts over at the Harvard Business Review and take control of your own career development. Below, you can read about three of the most important tips the experts discuss.
Get Real Mentoring
Seek out real mentoring opportunities, but don't just go dweebily asking your most favorite senior partner to be your mentor. After all, the more meaningful of a relationship you have with your mentor, the better mentorship you will receive. And don't be afraid to have a few mentors either.
Instead, cultivate a real professional relationship and let the mentorship blossom on its own. Be a visible member of the firm. Attend, or even help organize, the firm's events, professional, social, volunteer, and otherwise, and mingle with the partners. Actually get to know the person behind the mentor, and let them get to know you, before you actually look to them as a mentor.
Understand Your Metrics
Even if your firm doesn't care about you personally or professionally, if you understand how you are evaluated by the firm, and know what metrics are used, you'll know where to focus your energies to get the highest reward. Also, you can have your own set of metrics that you evaluate yourself on in order to continually be working on your own professional development. For example, if all your firm measures is the amount of money you bring through the door, you may want to measure more nuanced indicators of your performance, and devote energy or CLEs to your own improvement.
Never Stop Learning
One way to continually show that you add value to a firm is to make sure you stay on top of new developments. If you can become the firm's in house expert on a particular issue, or particular area of law, it can help you get recognized and move up in an organization. Particularly if your firm focuses on emerging industries, you can find yourself rapidly valued if you happen to have subject matter expertise that's attractive to a large prospective client.