careerFor those who don’t know my background, I trained as a solicitor at Drummond Miller in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I remained there for about a year post-qualification, then moved on to Digby Brown and thereafter Anderson Strathern, before leaving practice to join The Cashroom as their Business Development Manager.

Recently, and certainly not for the first time, I was contacted by a former colleague (a 3-4 year qualified solicitor), who was having a hard time trying to figure out what direction to take her career in. I am certainly not a ‘careers adviser’, but have helped a few people through similar scenarios now, and seen some of the places that a background in law can lead, career wise, whether in or out of practice, so thought it would be worthwhile to do a short Blog series on this general topic. I hope that it helps young lawyers, to some extent, when considering their career options. I plan to break the series down to a few separate posts, covering the options within private practice, in-house and quasi-legal roles in industry, and finally some possible options out-with legal practice. So, without further ado…

Staying Within Private Practice

Of course the work within private practice as a lawyer varies hugely, from helping individuals draw up a basic Will, to corporate deals worth gazillions of pounds/euros/dollars, as does the size and type of firm, from a small high street practice in a rural village, to the vast array of global offices of a magic circle firm. The huge extent of law firms and work-types therefore brings options, and my advice would be to take some time out, perhaps while away on holiday, or with some quiet time to yourself, to note down what it is that attracted you to law in the first place and, most importantly, where you want to be in 2,5 or 10 years’ time. For example, is money a big motivator, or would you be willing to sacrifice some income to work better hours? Are you interested in living/working abroad at some point in your career, do you want to be your own boss, or do you have aspirations to bring up a family in the quiet countryside? Do you attach prestige to working for a certain type of firm, and is the title of ‘Partner’ appealing? These are just some of the factors to consider, and once you start the process, I’m sure that the pros and cons of each options will start to become a little clearer for you. It’s amazing how much of a difference writing these thoughts down will make, so make sure to do that, rather than just thinking it through in your head.

I think that once you carry out the exercise above, you will be surprised at how clearly the picture begins to form. It should start to emerge whether you are veering towards a particular work-type, location, or size/type of firm, and what you want from your work/life. Don’t worry if the picture that emerges is a far cry from your current role – you will be amazed how a strategic move to an interim role will set you up and get you the necessary experience for where you ultimately want to be. Figuring out where you want to go is the important part, and the ‘how to get there’ is always possible if you are willing to put in the time and effort.


Once you have figured out where you want to land up, it is a lot easier to plan a route there! It may be that you need to undertake some re-training in a different area of law, or that you simply need to scroll through all of your contacts, and figure out a handful of people to speak to about your goals. It never ceases to amaze me how afraid people are to ask others for help. Speak to people you know, and ask them for advice, for an introduction to a particular person, or for their feedback on things you could be doing to improve your chances of getting the role you are seeking. Generally, unless you are a particularly unpleasant person (!), friends and contacts will be more than willing to help you out.

Whether it is speaking to somebody at a firm doing the type of work you are interested in, or talking to a sole practitioner about how they manage their business because you have decided that your aim is to set up your own new law firm, people will be very willing to spare you some of their time, and pass on any tips/lessons they have learnt along the way.

I hope that helps, to some extent, in narrowing down the career path that is most appealing to you within private practice. I think that finding careerout what makes you tick, and aligning a job with that, is the ultimate achievement. You spend a huge proportion of your life at work, so find something that you enjoy, or at the very least, don’t dread every day!

One of the other key factors that becomes apparent in your ‘homework’ above, may be the type of clients you want to work with. It may be that you enjoy working with individuals, with charities, or with entrepreneurs. It may also, however, emerge that you would like to be working within a business or organisation, and that an inhouse role may be the most appealing. More on that next time!

Gregor, Senior Business Development Manager at The Cashroom Ltd