Career Planning

In order to have career longevity you need to set aside time
to mindfully think about your career.

young woman planning work with sticky notes

5 Steps for career planning

1. Align your career to your values

When you put some real thought into what your values are, you’ll be better prepared and more likely to start making career choices that honour these values. If your #1 is family, of course you can still go for a demanding job but by having your #1 value top-of-mind, you’ll also start to think creatively about how you can build more flexibility into your work-week. Having a career that aligns with your values will allow you to stay motivated and passionate about your career. 

Step one is to ask yourself: What do I value? What is most important to me?

For inspiration on some common values check out the LAP Values Indicator Worksheet.

Write down your top five in the Career Planning Worksheet.

2. Set short term and long-term goals

Keeping in mind your top values set some achievable career goals. It’s important to set short term as well as long term goals. Short term goals create the steps you can take to reach those long term goals.  Try to focus on goals that are within your control.

What I will achieve….

  1. This week _________________________________________________________________________
  2. This month ________________________________________________________________________
  3. This next 6 months __________________________________________________________________
  4. This year __________________________________________________________________________
  5. In 10+ years _______________________________________________________________________

3. Make a to do list             

To do lists are great most of us already do them using phone apps or post-its. Here’s a way to incorporate your career goals and values into your to do list:

Split your to do list into 4 squares, each square represents a type of task: Work, Career, Personal and Adulting.

  • Work- What needs to get done?  E.g. Get in assignment, file that notice, email clients etc.                           
  • Career - What can I do to keep progressing in my career? E.g. Go to a CBA event, reach out to someone you admire, do you CBA bio, do that application, informational interview,
  • Personal - what am I doing for me outside of law, not as a lawyer? ‘Me as a person, not solely a lawyer’. E.g. dinner with friends, sports team, finishing that book
  • Adulting - Those things you wish someone else would do for you. Life errands. E.g. laundry, bills, taxes
    *to behave in an adult manner; engage in activities associated with adulthood

Create your own and fill in the tasks you wish to accomplish in the next week.

Work - What needs to get done?



Career- How to progress in my career?



Personal- Things for myself outside of law



Adulting - Life errands




4. Incorporate wellness into your plans

Burnout” is usually defined by a sense of emotional exhaustion and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment. Most lawyers have either seen it in others or have experienced it themselves to a greater or lesser degree.

In a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the Canadian Bar Association, stress/burnout was rated by 94% of the respondents as being the issue perceived as most prevalent in the legal profession.

To combat burnout it is important to focus on wellness, which includes physical and mental health. The exact definition of wellness will depend on the individual. For some it’s eating healthy and exercising for others it’s routine family dinners. 

Make a list of things you do or activities that make you happy or help you feel energized.  Try to incorporate these into your 4 Square To Do List.

For other great ideas on on how to work wellness into your life check out CBABC website on Lawyer Wellness.

Or the resources and workshops available through the Lawyer’s Assistance Program.

5. Build a network of support

It’s not easy doing it all on your own and the good thing is you don’t need to. The stronger your network of support is the easier staying in the profession becomes. The best and easiest way to build your network is to get a mentor.  Learn all about the benefits of mentoring, how to find a mentor and mentoring programs.