The benefits of strategic thinking in legal careers


Lawyers should every so often think about the next challenge, even when they are happy and fulfilled with their legal careers, senior ASIC lawyer Emma Curtis says. “Things can change, opportunities arise, and it’s good to be in the best position to be ready for this when it happens.”

Even law firms would benefit a lot from being strategic about its career paths, especially given the changing landscape of the sector.

“Law firms need to think strategically about the career paths they offer so they can try to retain the best people by offering great work, flexible arrangements, and challenging opportunities,” Curtis says.

“The traditional linear path may not be so attractive for graduates seeking work/life balance and interesting and varied work opportunities. Law firms are dynamic places and can tap into their client base to offer opportunities like secondments which can be an enriching experience,” she adds.

And for the lawyers who are thinking about switching from the traditional career path, they can find success outside, but not without taking on some risks and challenges.

“One thing which can be hard is adjusting to life outside a law firm and all the supports it offers – a great peer network, excellent resources, mentoring and coaching from senior practitioners, and a defined career path,” Curtis says. “It can be confronting leaving a practice where you understand the culture, and you are a fee earner, and moving to an environment with a different environment, expectations and support systems.”

Nonetheless, these challenges can be better navigated by those who are prepared.

“Network, talk to your peers, colleagues, associates, shout them a coffee, explore what worked and what they would do differently. When talking to potential employers, be open about your hesitations and reservations about making the plunge,” she says.  “They have probably done similar things themselves in their careers and can offer a perspective to help your decision making.”

Curtis will be speaking on strategic thinking about legal careers at the upcoming Women in Law Summit. To find out more about the program and to register, click here.

The senior lawyer, who is group senior manager for insurance at the ASIC, says events like the summit offer the chance to meeting people with similar interests and different backgrounds. They are important for the legal profession for “making connections that will help you in your career, and also help you to do your job better by leveraging information and knowledge from others in the industry.”


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