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Trainee Blog: finding fulfilment in a legal career

In recent years, we have seen people place increased importance on finding a sense of fulfilment in their work. This shift is likely to have stemmed not only from changing attitudes as new generations enter the workplace, but also from the self-reflection which was prompted in many during the global pandemic.

Career fulfilment is important, not least because of the amount of time spent at work. It can improve performance, increase job satisfaction and ultimately lead to a happier life.

So what is the source of career fulfilment? The answer will be different for everyone. For some, it comes from knowing that their contribution has value or creates purpose. For others, it comes from a sense of belonging within their organisation. And for others, it is about the sense of identity felt when their work aligns with their talents.

With that broad definition in mind (and perhaps contrary to popular belief) career fulfilment is not exclusive to those working in humanitarian, charitable or non-profitable organisations. It can be found right here in the legal sector. My advice on finding it, based on my own personal reflections, is set out below.

1. Reflect on the impact you want to have

It is empowering to know that your career is just that: yours.

On joining Michelmores I was blown away by the Firm’s approach, in encouraging me to take ownership of my personal development, and tailor my operational style according to my values.

I was advised by our Learning & Talent Development Specialist to “select five adjectives you would want your colleagues to describe you as in five years’ time, and focus in on those traits”. I was further advised to select traits which were authentic to me and which reflected my natural capabilities.

Through this experience I learnt that deciding the impact you want to have in the workplace, and acting in alignment with that, can create a strong sense of purpose. It might be that your desired impact will reflect your personal journey. Perhaps you’ve encountered negative workplace practices which have inspired you to take a different approach. Perhaps you’ve faced challenges that you now wish to help others to overcome. Personal ties such as this will only enhance the meaning you find, whilst seeking to make your desired impact.

I also learnt that playing to my strengths will help me to come into my own in my career, fostering a sense of identity and belonging. Plus, let’s face it- most of us in the legal profession feel the greatest level of job satisfaction when working at our peak performance.

2. Cultivate good professional relationships

A career in law will inevitably bring its challenges. But having colleagues that you can call on for support when working from the trenches – and being that colleague for others, builds the sense of belonging and community that we all need.

So my advice is to find or create a support network amongst your peer group. Organise group socials. Catch up with your peers who are facing challenges. Help colleagues who are less experienced than you. Doing so will remind you that your presence matters, and not only because of the profits you generate.

3. Set goals and dive in

Goal setting is an effective way to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of career stagnation. There’s plenty of advice available around goal setting, which I don’t propose to repeat here. Many recommend the SMART model. I prefer to keep my goals simple and limited in number. The important thing is that you find a method that works for you.

Additionally, to add some zest to your working life, get involved in whatever your firm has to offer. Here at Michelmores we have sports clubs and fundraising events to CSR and wellbeing schemes. The world (or workplace) is your oyster…

4. Be Realistic

As with any job, your legal career will not feel immensely inspiring at all times. And it’s important to remember that work is one of multiple aspects of life contributing to your overall sense of fulfilment. But with the amount of time that we spend at work, it surely makes sense to approach it with some zeal.

If you have any questions about how Michelmores can help with your career fulfilment, please get in touch with any of our trainees or with Georgie Lewis from our Graduate Recruitment team.