Lawyers are used to helping their clients solve their problems. It’s our job, and we take pride in it. In a busy law practice environment with a seemingly endless stream of emails, calls and last minute crisis moments, lawyers don’t often take the time to focus on themselves.
Sheena MacAskill is a lawyer who has carved out a career path for herself coaching lawyers. But wait, aren’t lawyers supposed to have it all figured out when it comes to their careers? We graduate law school, join firms as associates, work hard and then make partner, right?
As it turns out, it isn’t that easy, and legal careers these days can take many unexpected turns and can come in different shapes and sizes. This is where someone like Sheena comes in. A former big law lawyer, Sheena has coached many lawyers through major career events like a lay off or a career change, to major life events like becoming a parent.
I first met Sheena at an event hosted by Young Women in Law, where she shared some tips about how to ace a performance evaluation at work (tip, don’t be afraid to brag about your achievements and take credit!). She made a really good point that I think everyone should print out and frame on their desk, “you are the only person who will take care of your career, don’t expect others to.”
When you let your career go on auto pilot, or wait for others to recognize you and give you promotions, you can easily end up stuck in a job you do not like. Sheena’s advice is to write a list of career goals for the year, and keep it somewhere front and center where you can check it as often as you check your email. Be accountable to yourself.
It isn’t just major career events that lawyers sometimes need guidance to get them through, it is also major life events too. Sheena offers maternity leave coaching for women, to help them set up their practices for leave and prepare for the new work life balancing act ahead.
As a new mother myself, I can see how a service like that could be very useful, especially if you are in a small firm or are a sole practitioner.
Regardless of the stage you are at in your career, career coaching can be very useful.