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3 Steps To Help You Rock Your First Management Role In Law

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

As lawyers, we’ve been conditioned to compete and be the best, but our dedicated training and single-minded focus don’t prime us to make a safe and secure transition into management.

In this blog, I’m going to share with you a simple three-step traffic-light system that will help give you the best start in management and stop you from falling hard and fast. As per the theme of my Water+Air podcast, these are ordinary ideas that create extraordinary impact

Red: stop

Stop. Take a moment to consider what you need to do differently to manage in law. It’s time to let go of any deadweight and drop the naive assumption that “working hard” like you did as a junior will help you shine as a manager.

"It's time to let go of any deadweight..."

As lawyers, we are robust, self-reliant, independent workers. We don’t rely on others unless we have to. On the flip side of this aptitude for just getting on with it is a waned sense of “togetherness”. We tend to work with a high level of autonomy and are programmed to be responsible for our own performance rather than help set anyone else up for success; this can create challenges when you need to manage a legal team.

If we simply follow the footsteps of the bosses who have gone before us (some of them potentially horrible!), we fail to consider how expectations and requirements have changed over time. It’s no longer acceptable to bark instructions to juniors or expect a “that’s how I learned, now it’s your turn” approach (just like it’s no longer acceptable to provide clients with academic assessments without practical guidance).

Clients need you to give them expert advice and recommendations that will help them make smarter, easier and better decisions, and do it in a way that’s easy for them to respond to.

As a manager, it’s your job to keep your team moving with the times, if not ahead of it. The legal landscape has moved on, and so must we.

Ditch what doesn’t work; outdated approaches and the comfort of historical behaviours that don’t fit the management role and purpose will not carry you forward. Ditch what holds you back to create room for what will set you and your team or project up for success and get you ready for what’s ahead.

Amber: get ready