3 Success Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles

One of my favorite aspects of career transition consulting is helping attorneys identify and overcome the unique challenges they face. Watching my clients’ confidence and self-awareness grow is gratifying. I’m always impressed with the resilience and courage they display.

Here are three of the difficulties I’ve seen many attorneys face recently—and the strategies we’ve used to conquer those obstacles.

Obstacle 1: Feeling caught off guard and demoralized by a layoff

This is a common feeling among attorneys, especially those who didn’t see it coming. Sometimes a layoff can feel personal or political—especially for those attorneys who perceive that nearly all of the partners with whom they work give them positive feedback.

Success strategy 1: Question emotional or irrational assumptions

Attorneys are smart, rational thinkers. I encourage my clients to lean into their rational-thinking skills to evaluate and let go of the knee-jerk (and very human!) emotional response to job loss. I see clients gain a huge advantage when they re-frame their situation as a business decision on the part of the firm—not a reflection of their talent and potential to be a great lawyer. Indeed, many attorneys who find themselves in a career transition process are leaving their current firms in good standing.

Obstacle 2: Discomfort with broad networking

For many attorneys, sending out requests for advice to a bunch of people—many of them strangers—seems awkward, inauthentic, and even desperate. Asking for help can feel terribly vulnerable.

Success strategy 2: Start with your peers and close colleagues

You don’t have to meet a slew of high-level decision-makers for networking to be effective. I advise clients to start with their existing network of peers and those they know well. I’ve seen this approach yield excellent insights about open positions and what particular firms are looking for—as well as valuable introductions and connections to new resources.

Obstacle 3: Feeling pigeonholed by past experience

If you specialize in a more niche practice area, you might struggle to find opportunities that line up perfectly with your resume. And you may worry that hiring managers might dismiss you as too narrowly focused for a position they’re filling.

Success strategy 3: Tell a broader story

Even attorneys whose education and experience seem narrow or specialized have accrued a broader range of experience and skillsets than it may appear at first glance. The key is to bring that experience to the forefront and tell a more complete story of your skills. I help my clients adjust their resumes, representative matters lists, and cover letters to highlight things that show their true breadth of experience and knowledge, like pre-law-school experience and specific matters completed.

It’s been inspiring to help attorneys find positions they’re excited about—especially over the past couple of months when the landscape can seem dire at first blush. If you’re looking for your next position, I hope that learning about strategies that are helping other attorneys find success in their job searches gives you more confidence—you’ve earned it!