Do you feel bored at work? Lethargic? Do you feel like you’re going round in circles in your career? Do you dread Monday mornings because you dislike your job?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, it is possible that you are in a career rut.
There are a lot of reasons a lawyer may be in a career rut. Firstly, work in the legal services industry tends to become repetitive and predictable, mostly due to the fact that Law practice requires adherence to precedents. Lawyers that are familiar with the legal TV drama ‘Suits’ will agree that it is not always as fun as Harvey Specter and Mike Ross make it seem. Doing the same things over and over again tends to take out the enthusiasm and make work mechanical, and this could affect work productivity.
For some lawyers and other professionals, past failures contribute to the feeling. When set career goals are not realized as expected, it could lead to a loss of enthusiasm and zeal for work. The person could gradually slip into a state of apathy. For other lawyers, it is poor working conditions and not feeling valued at work.
Whatever the reasons are, the aim of this article is to suggest practical solutions to make your career more interesting and exciting.
1. Learn Something New
As stated earlier, repetition can cause boredom, so step out of your comfort zone and take out the time to learn something new, not necessarily in the area of law. Photography, video editing, website and graphics designing are a few creative areas to keep you from being bored and equip you with new skills.
2. Participate in Essay competitions
There are a lot of essay competitions on a wide range of topics, both legal and non-legal. The goal of participation may not be to win but to do something different, explore and conduct research in other fields. An example of a multi-disciplinary essay competition is the annual Peter Drucker essay competition.
3. Apply for short courses/conferences/fellowships with travel opportunities
Apart from being a good way to build your network, attending local and international conferences, short courses and fellowships might be exactly what you need to rekindle your enthusiasm for the profession. Most of these courses, conferences and fellowships are fully or partly funded and provide opportunities to travel to other countries. A temporary change of environment might just be what you need to reboot. Examples are The Mandela Washington fellowship, the YALI Regional cohort and the British Council Future Leaders Connect.
Volunteering has innumerable benefits. It is an opportunity to give back to the community, have fun, take up a new challenge, network and reduce stress. You can volunteer to contribute on a blog or to create awareness on various causes such as drug abuse and domestic/sexual violence. Some international non-profit organizations such as the United Nations create opportunities for volunteers to work remotely from all over the world.
5. Take an online course
With the help of technology, learning in the 21st century transcends distance, locations and on-site classrooms. It is amazing how one can go from novice to expert on a subject using electronic devices. There are a lot of MOOCs available on a wide range of subjects from websites such as e.g. Coursera, Udemy, Alison etc. A course in Human resources, Project Finance and Management, Leadership and Strategic management etc., will enhance your career and personal development. For courses on Intellectual property, the World Intellectual Property organization eLearning center and the Centre for International Governance Innovation are good places to start. There is also a course on Natural Resources which is a joint collaboration of the Natural Resource Governance Institute, The Columbia Center and The World Bank
6. Get another educational qualification
Being in a career rut may be a sign that you need to get a further educational qualification e.g. a Law/non-Law Master’s degree. In some cases, transitioning into a specialized area of law practice might require a further degree. Decide if a further degree is what you need and in which area, then go for it. You may need to apply for scholarships if you intend to get a degree outside the country.
7. Get Mentorship
It is common for professionals, not just lawyers, to go through times when they feel clueless on the next career step to take. Mentorship by other lawyers and professionals, especially those succeeding in your field of interest, could go a long way to motivate and give the much-needed direction.
8. Learn a new Language
Being bilingual is a valuable asset especially for lawyers that desire to work in international or multinational organizations. While learning a new language gives you something new to do, it also opens you up to new career prospects and opportunities. It is wise to prepare and equip yourself even before such opportunities present themselves.
Joyce Edolor is a lawyer called to the Nigerian Bar in 2012 and she’s also a member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN).
She currently works as the Head of Legal Services, Human Resources and Administration in a group of companies.
Joyce won the star prize of the Nigerian Bar association Young Lawyers Forum Essay competition in 2018.