Technical excellence. Performance critical. High risk. High uncertainty. These are shared realities for professional athletes and lawyers alike.
Having been immersed in the world of professional sport as a lawyer for over 20 years, I noticed an uncanny similarity and a terrifying inequity: lawyers are expected to perform like elite athletes, but they are not provided the infrastructure or opportunity to train to deliver consistent high performance. After 6+ years of highly structured studying and training process, new qualified lawyers find themselves confronted with a new reality of little structure for future development and even less by way of training to win within the new less prescribed structure.
Unfortunately, unlike athletes, once qualified, lawyers are left without adequate structure to thrive and enjoy their careers. It is a period which is distinguished by unnecessary LACK. e.g.
time for life, and physical and mental well-being, driven by the long-hours culture,
structure to develop the skills that allow lawyers to stand-out,
client confidence in junior lawyers,
meaningful recognition or appreciation,
training programmes which result in lawyers who are confident to apply the skills learned in daily work life,
genuine career development programmes,
employers intention to develop the lawyer's career.
I recall my own journey, as a newly qualified with the responsibility of a department which featured rugby's A listers, and the feeling of being, well, lost, in awe and expectation and no-one to ask. It was a feeling that I experienced again 4 years later when I started as the sole counsel responsible for Nike's sports marketing activities in the EMEA region. Transitions are challenging, but they needed be as painful as they are; painful for clients, employers and junior lawyers alike. I have been both comforted that I was not alone, and disappointed that nothing has really changed with meaningful impact. In fact it seems to have worsened as companies are increasingly targeting junior lawyers for senior responsibilities (without providing them with the tools and support to succeed). A recipe for burn-out and dissatisfaction. Compounded by personal circumstances, my burn-out came and it's not something that can be fixed with a 2 week holiday or a month long sabbatical. The journey is hard; really hard ... but that's for another blog post.
Now looking back, I think, "what if...". What if there was support, direction, something that would help me discover what I didn't know I needed to be able to step up ... how much better might I have been able to steward my responsibilities, my clients, my employers, and myself?
The desire to offer lawyers who are hungry to take control over their careers and to set them up for success, not burn-out has driven me to develop this training programme. I have created a programme that empowers lawyers to shine for all that they are and want to be.
I wish this programme had been available when I was qualifying. What if it had...? Would I have had the awareness or smarts to sign-up without my manager suggesting it? What if...?