Look Before You Leap: Career Advice for Legal Technology Pros

Career advice to help legal technology professionals decide whether they should leave their jobs.As a recruitment firm, we’re big believers in making career moves that help you advance and achieve greater job satisfaction. We’ve also warned about the risks associated with taking a counteroffer. But there’s a third option, one that happens before either the job seeking or counteroffer stage—evaluating whether or not you should leave your law firm or legal technology department in the first place.

This is an important starting point—and one you shouldn’t race over. Before making the leap to leave your legal tech job, consider the following five areas of opportunity at your current place of employment.

1. Compensation: Can You Earn A Competitive Salary?

There are several publications that offer salary information for the legal industry. For example, the Association of Legal Administrators, the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA), and ESP Legal all publish free salary guides revealing average technology and litigation support compensation trends. Peruse these guides and see where you land. Are you being paid a competitive salary given the size and location of your firm, the other benefits (such as health insurance) provided to you, and your years of experience in the industry?

If you feel you are being underpaid, can you meet with your manager and share your concern? Without mounting a case against anyone or threatening to leave, present the market information and salary statistics you’ve discovered to support your claim that your wages fall below average. Then, give you firm a chance to consider and respond. Many firms will try to adjust to bring you in line with market standards—but you may have to wait until your next review.

2. Career Growth: Can You Advance and Reach Your Goals?

Talk with your manager and ask what opportunities your firm has for advancement—and what steps you can take to ensure you’re on the right track for long-term growth. Your desire to move up the ladder should go hand in hand with your desire to learn, so during this conversation, ask your supervisor for ongoing guidance as a mentor and find out what other training and educational benefits your firm provides. Educational reimbursement, for example, could help you earn your college degree or MBA or even a certain technical certification. All of these actions will enhance your skill growth and make you a better internal candidate to promote.

Sometimes, there are no avenues for upward mobility within your department and you need to look outside of your organization. But even then, one of the hardest career moves to make is to get hired as a manager without any management experience. So again, look to your current employer to gain further experience before you try making a leap. Ask to lead a project or mentor the junior staff. Who knows—maybe showing that initiative will get you a promotion after all.

3. Work-Life Balance: Do You Have Job Flexibility and Healthy Work Boundaries?

The hours you put in—and are expected to put in—whether or not you take work home or are always “on call,” your commute, and your ability to work remotely or flex your time are all important considerations when it comes to long-term job satisfaction. Some things—like your commute—may not be adjustable . . . but things like your ability to work remotely certainly could be.

Talk with your firm about your schedule and see if you can realign some of your tasks and/or working arrangements to better suit your at-home needs. Start small—for example, delegating one project or beginning to work remotely on a trial basis once a week and extending that to two or three days a week over time if the arrangement is serving the best interests of both you and your firm.

4. Benefits: Do the Perks Round Out Your Employment Package?

Sometimes a firm can’t give you a salary increase but can give you a bigger bonus or increase your paid vacation time as an incentive. In addition to flexible work arrangements, medical benefits, and education reimbursement (all of which we’ve already mentioned), profit sharing, stock options, PTO, 401(k) plans, HSAs, childcare assistance, pet insurance, student loan forgiveness, and other smaller in-office perks are part of the “package” your firm has to offer, and they should be considered as a collective whole along with your salary when assessing the fairness of your compensation plan.

Talk with your manager or HR representative to see what options you might have. And, if you are actively looking for new opportunities, carefully evaluate how changes to these benefits could affect your overall take-home pay.

5. Leadership: Do You Respect and Get Along with the People In Charge?

If you love your job but hate your boss, you already know you’re in a difficult position. Statistics have shown that 75% of turnover can be influenced by managers. We recommend having a heart-to-heart with your boss before reporting any dissatisfactory behavior to HR or higher and also before making a career change. Your boss may not know how you and others feel and may be open to changing the behavior and your interactions in a way that better suits your work style. Don’t you always appreciate when someone comes to you to try to work out a problem instead of going behind your back? Who knows—when your boss sees you as a straight shooter and someone who is trustworthy, your relationship may improve more than you could have ever imagined!

If, however, your boss won’t hear you out, doesn’t change the behavior, and is creating a negative working environment for you and others—it’s time to seek a new opportunity. You can go to HR, but they will likely already be aware of the situation, and your conversation may not result in a change. What’s worse, HR will need to inform your boss of your report, which could make your life even more miserable. Sometimes, it’s not a matter of avoiding the leap but knowing when the time is right to make it.

 

There’s not always a way to advance your career and increase your financial earnings without exploring new job opportunities. If you’ve thought through these five areas and have come to that conclusion, let us know—we’re always here to help you find your best legal technology fit. But if you see untapped areas of opportunity where you’re currently working, we hope you will take some steps to improve your job situation and grow where you’re already planted.

The key to taking a leap and landing on your feet is intentionality. Whatever you decide, move forward with confidence until you reach your full potential.

Ready to take the leap? Our ESP Legal technical recruiters will help you speed up the process and land somewhere that aligns with your needs in all of these areas.

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