You’re ready to take the next step in your career and move into a role where you manage legal projects, advise the board on strategy and risk, and even supervise a team of junior lawyers. The only catch? You don’t have any management experience. You’re not alone – lawyers who are moving from a private practice environment to an in-house team often struggle with how to demonstrate that they have more than just top training and legal experience in order to move into a management role.

It is rarely the case that management projects will land in your lap (unlike due diligence which will always find you); these roles and responsibilities typically go to people who have stepped up and sought out opportunities to lead. If your long-term career goals involve moving into a management role, take the initiative now to start building that experience. This article from Canadian Lawyer Magazine provides thoughtful suggestions on how to seek opportunities to lead and tap into your mentors to achieve these goals.

Next, you should think creatively about the experience you do have and how that experience could translate into management abilities. If you are applying to a role which has direct reports or requires management experience, you should take the time to reflect on what parts of your career have prepared you to take on these challenges. Tailoring your resume to respond to the specific requirements of a job is always worth the effort. For example:

  1. Do you act as a formal or informal mentor to any junior members of your team?
  2. Are you involved in recruitment efforts for your firm?
  3. Have you represented your firm at any conferences or spoken on panels?
  4. Have you led any special projects? Even if your day-to-day role does not include formal management responsibilities, try to consider times where you have led a project or a team.
  5. Do you sit on any boards or committees outside of your formal role?

This article from The Muse offers great suggestions on what transferable skills you should showcase in order to highlight your management abilities including pitching new clients, engaging in recruitment efforts, and managing budgets.

Being a senior lawyer does not necessarily equate to management experience. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that whoever is reviewing your resume will infer management abilities unless you address these skills directly in your application. A resume which consists only of your “hard skills”, such as transactional matters or in-court achievements, may leave you at the bottom of the pile when you are looking to take the next step.

Jennifer is a Recruitment and Communications Consultant with The Heller Group. She is actively involved in the recruitment and placement of lawyers into law firms and corporations and is also responsible for the corporate communications related to The Heller Group. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys travelling, curling and spending time with friends and family.

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