Position Yourself for a Promotion

25 May 2020 Law Staff


Hoping to position yourself for a promotion in the near future? The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is right now. Planning achievable future goals and benchmarks are extremely important when it comes to career progression.  

Here at Law Staff, we meet with lawyers every day and have seen which lawyers have successfully grasped the art of gaining a promotion and those who haven’t been able to achieve their goals as easily. Below are some examples of lawyers who have positioned themselves well for a promotion at end of financial year -    



Take the time to write down your ultimate promotion goals; set timelines; decide what smaller short-term goals need to happen for you to get there, and write those down too.

Observe what it took for other lawyers in your team or firm to get promoted. Look into who was promoted last financial year, invite them out for a coffee (or virtual zoom meeting) and have a conversation with them. In a soft and modest manner, congratulate them on their success. If you admire their work and aspire to follow their footsteps, say so! This is a great way to connect with the individual and possibly gain more insight into what they did to get where they are. 



One of the standout points of difference your direct manager will be looking for when considering your promotion, is for you to be showing a level of responsibility. 

Time is money. Management and Partners invest a lot of their time reviewing, mentoring and supervising. Being responsible for your own attention to detail, conducting spellchecks, grammar checks, and even developing your own bad habit checklist to tick off before submitting work will save a considerable amount of your supervisor’s time, and inevitably, will free up more time for supervisors to produce billable work.  An increased fee budget equates to a larger salary budget. 

You may also be able to show you can provide mentoring and supervision to more junior lawyers, paralegals or admin support. Put your hand up to review a junior colleagues work and delegate tasks to them which you are able to supervise. Of course, this needs to be done within the realms of your role and capability, and always ask before doing so as it will require approval. 

Depending on the size of your current firm, offering additional assistance beyond the scope of your job description can also assist the development of the firm which management will always acknowledge as an attribute. From offering articles in your respective areas of practice, volunteering for networking events, and creating resources or templates for other members in your team. 

Take a well-measured and considered approach to all of your new prospective development opportunities, as it is crucial to maintain balance. Overcommitting and underdelivering opens the door for rushed mistakes, disappointed seniors, as well as a potential reduction in their time needed to double-check your work, which is counter-intuitive to the overall objective of what you set out to achieve. These are all very important parts of the stable career progression of a successful professional. 



Just because you think you deserve a promotion, doesn’t mean everyone else can see that. Ask yourself why you deserve it and how you can get there. The new responsibilities mentioned above will hopefully allow your boss to see the benefits you can add to the firm.  

While most lawyers despise them, time sheets can actually work to your benefit in this instance. If you are in private practice, you are in the fortunate position that you are required to bill each and every hour of your day, which means your boss can see every bit of work you do and every benefit you add to the organisation. Specifically, the benefit is in a way which leads to increased profit for the business. Ensure you are consistently making or exceeding your targets. Given salary is usually based directly on charge rate and billable targets, if you can’t meet these at the current rate, a promotion is going to be a hard case to make. 

Another way to show your worth is to network and bring in new clients. Build on current client relationships and create new ones by being pro-active at networking events. In the interim, find specific examples where clients have praised your work and make it known to your manager. Which brings us to our next point … 



Unfortunately, even Partners at top-tier law firms are not mind readers. For this reason, it is important you communicate to your manager your motivation to take the next step in your career. 

At a convenient time for your manager, set up a meeting to discuss your internal career path. Keep the conversation positive and indicate that you enjoy working with the firm. Suggest some steps that you consider will provide this career advancement goal (including taking on more responsibility and mentoring) and indicate any specific billable figures and client introductions you have made or intend to make.

Invite your manager to provide their own  honest feedback on what else you can do to prepare for a step up and progress your career at the firm. 



By simply asking for progression opportunities, you haven’t lost anything. You may have even gained some insight into what you can do from now on. If your manager is not in a position to immediately promote you, you are not leaving empty handed as you are now armed with how to achieve your future career goals and have the ability to start this process from today onward.  



With all this said, if you aren’t doing what you love, or you don’t enjoy the culture or colleagues at your current firm, then it’s going to be very difficult for you to over perform. This might mean that it is time to consider your options, regardless of whether you get that promotion. Meeting your career-advancement objectives will be a lot easier if you enjoy going to work. 

From time to time, and despite your best efforts, you may either not agree with your manager’s answer or the timing just won’t be right for the firm. You may therefore find that looking elsewhere is a better option, and you may find a clearer path for career advancement in a firm that has a defined requirement for someone at your level and with your skillset. That said, be cautious of false promises. Explore this intently to determine what the prospects of advancement look like for people who perform and what the actual metrics are for this. 



If you would like further information on other tips to best get that promotion, then feel free to reach out to the most appropriate Client Advisor here at Law Staff.  

We wish you unlimited success!!


Author – Bianca Calder LL.B. (Hons), Associate Client Advisor

Editor – Craig Ashton-Sward, Director & Senior Client Advisor