Staying on Top of Legal Trends Can Help You Stay Ahead in Your Legal Career

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The legal field is shifting, transforming and evolving every single day. In this ever-changing environment, it’s imperative for you to stay on top of developments in your field in order to stay on top of your career.

To help you understand the trends that are affecting the legal marketplace, and to help you stay fresh and relevant in a competitive legal job market, here are some things to keep in mind:

To LinkedIn or Not to LinkedIn?
There are more than 1 billion Facebook users, and chances are you are one of them. But while Facebook has emerged as the go-to social networking site, LinkedIn has established itself as a primary destination for professional networking. It’s where potential employers, colleagues, clients and business associates go to find out about you. As a result, crafting a strong LinkedIn profile has become just as important as crafting a strong resume. After all, your LinkedIn profile is a reflection of you, and it is a great tool that can help you meet business associates. In addition, your connections can endorse you and your specific skills, strengthening your hiring potential and helping you attract new connections. However, it is important to be strategic in building your network, limiting it to people that can help you fulfill your career goals. Leave more personal relationships to Facebook or Twitter.

Today, most companies conduct online searches to find and connect with potential hires. Thus, by participating in social networks like LinkedIn, you enhance your chances of being found and contacted by potential employers. In addition, employers also use LinkedIn to research and evaluate potential hires. Therefore, remember that the information you post on your profile is available to those who want to learn about you. Be sure that you do not post more about yourself than you would feel comfortable discussing with an employer.

Being an active member of the LinkedIn community – sharing articles, joining industry groups and posting on discussion boards – is a great way to get noticed on LinkedIn and increase your online brand. Remember, potential employers, clients and business partners are watching. Take advantage of the opportunity to gain exposure by commenting intelligently on issues you feel confident about and sharing information that is relevant to your practice area.

The Impact of eDiscovery
Over the past decade, eDiscovery has evolved significantly and today impacts every practice specialty in the legal industry. It touches everything – from how people and businesses conduct themselves, to what they write in an email, say in a voicemail or put on a blog. It also has impacted the legal job market, creating new opportunities and rewriting the rules for existing practices, particularly in the fields of discovery and risk management.

Therefore, it is important to understand the changes, rules and court opinions guiding eDiscovery. This knowledge can complement your existing skills and expertise in the legal profession or help you re-invent yourself completely in order to take advantage of emerging opportunities. For example, the demand for Litigation Support Managers (Technicians, Directors, Specialists, etc. – titles vary widely) is growing and more firms and corporate legal departments are beginning to bring well-compensated, highly specialized eDiscovery experts in house. It is clear that eDiscovery is here to stay, and incorporating eDiscovery knowledge and skills can help your career flourish.

Leverage Your Network
With budgets tight and dollars becoming stretched, law firms are getting smarter about hiring activities and work distribution. Firms are demanding more of their personnel and everyone is being asked to pull additional weight. As a result, the more weight you can pull, the more attractive you will be to a potential employer. However, in this instance, weight is not measured in pounds, but in dollars.

Firms yearn for multi-faceted and resourceful candidates who are both profitable and productive. While you many not be able to boast about a book of business to show your ability to drive revenue, you can show your book of contacts. The ability to network, along with a knack for developing business, is paramount in today’s job search.

Effective networking can open an innumerable number of doors. Whether it is doing pro bono work or sitting on your local Bar’s membership committee, employers want – and need – that exposure that will reflect positively on the firm, bring added recognition and garner new clients.

In this ever-changing environment, it is imperative for you to stay on top of developments in your field in order to stay on top of your career. Be sure to stay current on the latest trends affecting your field and your future. Remain flexible, open and adaptable to change in order to put yourself in position to seize every opportunity.

Contributed by Aida C. Rodriguez, Executive Director, Special Counsel, Miami, Florida

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