’I am a family solicitor practising in child care/child abduction. I recently had an appraisal with our managing partner and expressed a desire to expand into advising other areas of law. I am nearly six years’ PQE and am becoming bored and stagnating. I want a new challenge but do not want to start at the bottom. I was given the green light by my boss but it would be alongside my current work/caseload. I want to gain knowledge of an area that is more transferable.’
Anthony Kenny, assistant general counsel at GSK
First, congratulations for taking the first initial steps, being self-aware enough to realise you need a change and having the courage to discuss this with your manager. The good news is that whatever area of law you decide to try your hand at next, there are masses of materials ready to be tapped into.
The two main challenges are: deciding what area to try; and getting practical experience.
As for which area of law to try next, many areas provide good broad experiences that are transferable but two that come to mind (and were the start of my journey) are dispute resolution and general commercial contracts.
Commercial contracts in particular provide a good foundation for then moving into real estate or banking. At its core ‘a contract is a contract’.
As for the experience, this is going to involve an honest chat with your managers and other lawyers in the practice. Whereas the theory can be studied in your spare time, how you get to practise will depend on your workload. Ideally, you would go on secondment to another team and be immersed in a new area. An interim compromise might be to support other teams in your chosen area and, bit by bit, swap into the new role. You need to avoid getting stuck helping in a new team and essentially keeping the same workload.
The Gazette endeavours to feature as many of your questions as possible but regrets that our careers counsellors are unable to reply personally.