(This article is written by Eddie Law, the recruitment director of eLawyer Recruitment and was published in RE:LEX Malacca Bar Magazine Feb 2015 issue)
Growing up in an Asian culture means that our parents or elders always told (or tell, depending on how adamant they are) us that working hard is the key to success Yes, in many ways, hard work does pay for success. No one should ever be taught to be lazy. The degree of hard work is also likely to affect the speed with which you achieve your goal . However, have you ever thought that making the right choices is as important, if not more important than merely working hard
Everyone has that friend in school – the one who did not seem to work as hard as you did but achieved more than you ever did? Why?
Allow me to illustrate this concept with the following analogy:
A person who wants to succeed is determined to get from where he is to where he wants to be, that is, from Point A to Point B. A few options are available for this person. He may choose to RUN. He may work very hard on it, and get closer to his destination with each painful step, perhaps at 5 kilometers an hour.
Alternatively, he may choose to DRIVE to Point B at 100 kilometers an hour. Finally, he may choose to fly at 1000 kilometers an hour.
Which which mode of transportation would you choose to reach your destination? When put this way, is the answer not obvious
Choosing the right platform or means to your goal not only helps you reach your destination in a shorter time, it also allows you the liberty of spending quality time with your love one during the journey.
The old school of thought was that the one who seems to be putting in the most effort is to be lauded (for example, the one who chooses to run would definitely sweat more and seem to be working very hard), and the one who does not seem to be putting in as much effort is frowned upon (for example, the one who takes the plan seems more comfortable). However, in today’s competitive world, perhaps a paradigm shift is due.
Applying this to your legal career, you have probably worked very hard to get through law school. Upon your graduation, there is myriad of options and possibilities for your legal career. For instance, you can venture into private practice or work as an in-house lawyer, serve the government, become an academician, or do something totally unrelated to law.
The choice you make matters! If you choose the right job, the right area of practice, the right firm, the right employer, the right career path or even the right partner and clients, these right choices will make a significant impact in sending you off to the road of success more quickly and smoothly. Choosing the right platform will save you some unnecessary hard work However, if you make the wrong choice, no matter how hard you work and how much effort you put in, you will still be shying away from where you want to be. Working hard per se is insufficient if you do not choose the right direction or platform.
Throughout my six years of legal recruitment experience, I noticed a common character trait among the junior lawyers (and some senior lawyers too), that is, most of them come to a cross-roads in their legal career at some point of time.
They often seek my views on several common questions:
Should they stay in private practice or venture into in-house practice?
Should they stay in their current law firm or move on?
Should they switch to a new area of law practice?
Should they set up their own legal practice or wait for an offer of partnership in the law firm they are currently in?
Should they stay in practice or opt out of practice?
If they choose to opt out of practice, what are other career options are available?
To me, all these questions or struggles are so real and yet so complex, as they involve many factors for consideration. They require you to think of what you desire to become, how you should respond once you discover it, and what others expect of you, especially your loved ones.
Now that you understand the importance of making the right choice, the question is: how do you know what the most suitable career path for you is?
This is, in fact, the millions dollar question that many lawyers are trying to answer,especially if you just started your legal career or you are at the point of feeling burnt-out.
Here are some pointers you should keep in mind when you embark on this “soul searching journey”:
1. Making right choice in your career is a continuous process – it is not a simple task to make an accurate choice as to what is most suitable for you. What helps in this is first to be “present” at your current job.. Being present means giving 100 % of your effort and focus and seizing all the opportunities arising from this job When you do this, you will be able toaccumulate more practical experience, gain more industrial exposure and acquire legal knowledge and on the job skills which will then help you to make a more informed decision or more accurate choice in your career.
2. Value is the fundamental reference when making a career choice – choose a career that is compatible with your belief or life values. To determine if you are in the career that you want or which suits you most,assess if your current career is able to provide you with the lifestyle that you want and which matches your values. If so, you will feel happy and satisfied, regardless of your salary or revenue.
Career success should not solely be determined by the amount of money that you earn. Instead, you should be driven by your dreams, because when you realize your dream, all good things will follow …including money!
I do not deny that putting in effort is still important in nay platform that you choose. However, making the right choice is like setting the right direction Once the direction or platform is right, working hard on it will expedite the journey to reach your destination or goal.
It is not easy to find the right direction and platform for success, but that does not mean that you should give up looking for it. Whatever you do, always do it to reflect your values and purpose in life Mingle with people or mentors with positive energy. Then you will find your way.