C is for Parlaying a Career Change

Last time, I wrote about personal branding as a career tool for the 21st Century Lawyer. This time, I’m sharing my secrets for developing a personal brand. And then, I’ll show you how a brand can bolster your confidence in talking about why you’re making a career change.

Previously, I explained how a personal brand is about tapping into patterns like, how you solve problems or make decisions, or the way you interact with clients and co-workers. To help uncover these elements, I like to use two ingredients: your personal values and strengths.

21st Century Lawyer ingredients






Values are a foundational part of my coaching process. Each person has a unique set of values. Identifying your values is another way of describing who you are at your best!

Check out this powerful exercise on how to discover your values. Then, cross-reference those results with a strengths survey. I like the VIA of Character Strengths (referenced in the above infographic). The two of these together is guaranteed to provide you with an understanding of your personal brand.

My clients enjoy discovering their values and strengths because it’s an opportunity to re-connect with who they really are, and gives them some versatile tools to be proactive in their career.


For example, after considering their values and strengths and identifying their brand, two of my clients were able to come up with the following sample positioning statements when faced with a career change:

“Having come from a full-service firm, I appreciated spending 18 months in a boutique personal injury practice. I was able to conduct my own examinations for discovery, mediations and generally run my own files. I have also come to realize that I thrive in a varied practice setting, which is why I am seeking a general litigation opportunity with your firm.”

(Client A)

“Even though I’ve not practiced as a traditional lawyer since being called to the bar, I have acquired significant business skills from working at X organization. I’d like to apply these skills in a commercial law firm where I can become a well-rounded lawyer and a source of information to my colleagues and clients.”

(Client B)

Client A was feeling constricted in a specialized practice area. Upon discovering that she values learning and variety, it became clear why.

What Client A really needed was to work in a practice area that allowed her to keep growing without developing a particular area of expertise. That is why she began to seek out general litigation opportunities at smaller firms. However, she was concerned about how many times she had jumped around already.

This positioning statement made Client A feel confident when answering interview questions about why she wanted to move, and it allowed her to pivot into her own value proposition. The fact that she gained much hands-on experience from her previous position (doing her own examinations for discovery and mediations, and running her own files) meant that she had a lot to offer a prospective employer. Client A landed a new position within 4 months of our working together.

Client B wasn’t happy in a quasi-legal role. The problem for her lay in the limits of her role.

As someone who values independence and resolution, it was difficult for Client B to be in a supporting position that never saw the outcome of her work.   With this level of clarity, it made sense for her to seek out a small commercial law firm that would value her business acumen and be willing to train her at this stage of her career.

Client B decided to put her career change on hold to welcome a new member to her family, but secured several two-round interviews leading up to that decision. Her success was in large part on account of incorporating her positioning statement into her application materials.


Are you thinking about a career change?

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This article originally appeared on AWAL.


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