3 Steps To Bulletproof Your Legal Career


Summary: As a lawyer your time is limited and there is always more work to be done. But are you dedicating time to advance your career? This article provides a three-step process to bulletproof your career advancement:

1. Know Yourself

2. Let Others Know About You

3. Pay Attention To Who Stands Out In Your Mind

By assessing your strengths, building your network, and modeling best practices from industry leaders you can bulletproof your career and avoid getting left behind as the legal industry continues to evolve.

3 Step Process to Bulletproofing Your Legal Career

I have met too many smart, talented attorneys who struggle to advance their careers. It doesn’t matter if they are junior attorneys at law firms only a few years into their careers or senior level attorneys working in-house their challenges are the same.

Generally, their challenges fall into two categories, one, they don’t know how to articulate their value to a future employer and because of that they don’t know how to market themselves effectively and two, they don’t have a strong enough network that can open doors and introduce them to the right opportunities. These are critical elements of a successful job search strategy. Without these two elements, they are left to join the masses of aimless job seekers hoping to find their dream job while settling for whatever they can get.

Unfortunately attorneys only pay attention to these elements of their career when they are on the job search and neglect to develop their personal brand and their network while they are gainfully employed. My goal is to educate attorneys on why they need to work on managing their careers on a continual basis versus thinking about their careers and their networks only when they need a job. 

By neglecting to invest their time in managing their careers attorneys put themselves in a vulnerable position. My favorite metaphor to illustrate this point is that you have to “build the well before you need it”. In this case, attorneys need to build their personal brand and build a network that knows them and thinks highly of them so that getting their support to explore new opportunities is as easy as picking up the phone. The danger for attorneys who do not invest in their brand and in building their network is that they do not stand out in any meaningful way in a competitive job market. 

I recently spoke to an attorney turned serial entrepreneur and I was specifically interested in his ability to transition from job to job with different types of employers. As an attorney, he had managed to work for large firms, corporations, and federal agencies. Knowing how difficult it is for attorneys to make these kinds of job leaps I was very impressed with this aspect of his career story. I asked how he was able to make those jumps and he summarized it like this, “The harder you work and the more you become known as an expert the easier it is to attract better opportunities.”

My takeaway from this conversation can be reduced to two principles; one is that you need to be good at what you do and two, people need to know about you.

1. Know Yourself

To start this process, imagine you are in job search mode and you are sitting in a first round interview for your ideal job. How would you answer the following questions:

  • What are you good at?

  • What do you enjoy doing?

  • What are your strengths?

  • How do your skills and strengths meet the needs of this specific employer?

  • Bonus question: What skills do you need to develop to qualify for a higher title or a new role at your ideal company?

Use these questions as a starting point to assess how well you know yourself, give some thought to what you want to be known for, and understand which employers would value your expertise.

2. Let Others Know About You

Now that you have identified your expertise and what you want to be known for, it is time to assess who knows you and if they know you for the right things. How would you answer the following questions:

  • How well do the senior level attorneys at your organization know you and your work? Do they hold you in high regard?

  • How well are you known in your industry? Do people at other companies know you and do they respect the quality of your work?

  • Who are 3-5 people in your company and/or industry that you would want to be on their radar?

Use these questions to assess the quality of your network. Again if people don’t know you they can’t share opportunities with you, which is how most people come across the best job opportunities. 

3. Pay Attention To Who Stands Out In Your Mind

Think about examples of attorneys who stand out as great attorneys in your mind. What are they doing well? How did they get on your radar? What do you admire about how they present themselves? 

  • Do they sit on company-wide committees?

  • Do they speak at industry events?

  • Do they share their expertise online?

  • Do they write for industry periodicals?

Learn what others do well and model those activities. You can pick what suits your personality but I encourage you to also step out of your comfort zone and don’t just do what is easy. To achieve a new level of success you must be willing to try new things.

As you continue to implement these steps on a consistent basis you will start to build a reputation as a competent attorney that is well known by the right people. And soon you will benefit by attracting opportunities your way or easily securing opportunities you are interested in by virtue of the reputation you have built with your network.


  1. Join the Career Design LinkedIn Group and get access to more great articles and resources to help you design a more fulfilling career.

  2. If you are interested in working with me to create a more fulfilling career then schedule a free consultation at MGC Coaching.

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Mo Chanmugham, Esq., ACC is a former entertainment lawyer turned executive career coach and the founder of MGC Coaching. He helps ambitious professionals who are feeling stuck gain the clarity and confidence they need to create more fulfilling careers.