COACH'S PLAYBOOK: Stuck in neutral? 5 tips for faster career success

By Elizabeth Jolliffe

Regardless of whether you are an in-house lawyer, in private practice or elsewhere, if you have at least a few years of experience under your belt, focus on the following tips in 2014 to stand out and take your career to the next level.

* Get a Sponsor. Mentors talk with you; sponsors talk about you. Mentoring prepares you to move up; sponsorship makes it happen. Unlike a mentor, a sponsor is an influential person who goes to bat for you, pounds on the table and uses his or her political capital to open doors to opportunities.

* Maintain a Master Résumé. A master résumé is solely a resource. Create one with details on all of your jobs, accomplishments, skills, experiences, etc. Add to it twice a year. This reference document makes drafting easier when it is time to write a tailored resume. You can also use it to assess your career path, direction and speed, and make adjustments.

* Run Highly Effective Meetings. Distribute the agenda in advance. Start on time, end on time. Do not stop to catch up the late arrivals. At the end of the meeting, everyone should know who is going to do what by when. Distribute the minutes or summary soon after the meeting.

* Develop & Deepen Your Expertise. Your colleagues and/or clients are more likely to seek your advice and services if they know and trust your expert knowledge. Your expertise can keep you ahead of the competition and on the leading edge of your practice area.

* Raise Your Visibility. Being an experienced and excellent lawyer is no longer enough to get you what you want in your career. Opportunity won't come knocking if the right people don't know you or what you can do. Create, volunteer or ask for projects or assignments that get you, your name and your talents in front of whoever is in your target market.


Elizabeth Jolliffe of Your Benchmark Coach is a certified career management and business development coach for lawyers. She practiced for 19 years as a business litigator and partner at a large Detroit firm.

Published: Fri, Jan 3, 2014