Run…To Reach Your Career Goals

Reaching Your Career Goals | Special Counsel

Happy National Running Day to all lawyers who are also runners!

As a runner, I understand the time, commitment and discipline required to achieve your ultimate goal (or distance) whether you’re running a 5K (3.1 miles) or a full marathon (26.2 miles).   That same time, commitment and discipline is required to achieve almost any worthy goal in life, including your career goals.

In my previous training for half-marathons (13.1 miles), I created a plan in which I ran a certain distance and number of days per week and gradually increased my distance and endurance over time.  It was a structured schedule that required planning, discipline and focus to achieve certain physical goals in a specific time frame while maintaining a healthy lifestyle and nutrition plan.

It’s important to plan your career in the same manner.  For example, if you’re an associate in a law firm and eventually want to practice law in-house with a company, you should implement a career plan.  Your career plan may resemble your running training schedule, as follows:

Years 1-5+

Practice a specific area of law with a well-respected law firm that is known for that particular practice.

  • Ask for as much hands-on experience and responsibility as possible.
  • Try to gain a lot of client interaction and exposure.
  •  Do not “job hop” – do your best to create stability and longevity with your firm/employer.

Years 4-8

Begin exploring specific industries and companies where might like to work.

  • Get to know your clients and their in-house attorneys.
  • Research the market, including companies and compensation.
  • Establish a relationship with a reputable legal recruiter who has corporate clients and experience placing candidates in-house.
  • Polish your resume.
  • Create a detailed LinkedIn profile that clearly reflects your area of practice, experience and expertise as well as any publications and accolades.
  • Monitor Internet job sites.

Discuss a career change with your spouse or partner, including the possibility of relocation.

Create a list of criteria that is important to you in making a career change – for example:

  • Practice area
  • Industry
  • Compensation
  • Work-life balance/predictable schedule
  • Location
  • Advancement opportunities/career track

Explore, either independently or with the assistance of a qualified legal recruiter, a handful of in-house opportunities that meet the criteria you have pre-identified as important to you and your career.

  • Be selective in your application process.
  • Stay in control of who has your resume and where it is being submitted.

Years 5-10+

Go in-house with a great company that provides all the things that are important to you and your career!

Each lawyer’s plans and goals differ.  However, the key is to create a well-thought plan and strategy and implement it with discipline and commitment to achieve your ultimate goal.

Happy National Runners Day!

Sharon A. McLaughlin, Esq. is a Regional Search Director with Special Counsel in Houston, TX (

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