A career in the legal sector is incredibly rewarding, but it can be demanding – particularly in those first few months of trying to navigate your new role. If you’ve gone to the ‘right’ university, know someone in the legal industry or have post-graduate qualifications, you may find you land your dream role swiftly. While this is a great advantage for lots of keen law professionals, it can create a bubble of employees who are cut from a similar cloth, when the legal system needs diversity to represent everyone fairly.

We want the legal sector to be inclusive, and while it can sometimes feel as though there are barriers to progression, it is possible to overcome them. So what can be done? In this post, we share our advice for furthering your career in the legal sector.

Keep a continuous record of your achievements

As a legal professional, you will know the importance of hard evidence – it’s very difficult to argue against. You can use this in your progression journey too, making sure to document every achievement or piece of good feedback. This logbook can be used to support your applications for promotions or pay rises.

If that sounds a bit self-indulgent, then think about it this way: if you were presented with a document of reasons why someone would be a good fit for a job, it would be hard to refute. If you struggle with self-confidence, reading back concrete evidence of things you’ve done well can also help give you the push you need.

Discuss your work and responsibilities

When companies create a culture that encourages keeping information about money and job responsibilities to yourself, it can be hard to know whether you’re being paid a fair wage or being asked to do too much. Pay transparency can also help reduce discrimination, where people are paid differently for the same role because of their gender, race, disability or other factors.

Talking about money can be hard, but talking about your remuneration package (including benefits, not just pay) and your workload can help you call out any discrepancies. You may not feel comfortable doing this with your immediate colleagues, so talking about it with friends and family can give you a second opinion on whether you’re getting treated fairly. Networking can also help, introducing you to other people in different firms – look for groups that meet your specific interests, and remember you have every right to be there.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself forward

It can be tricky to advocate for yourself, especially if you already feel like you don’t belong. You should, however, back yourself to try new things and seize different opportunities for training and new experiences. There will always be someone who is more qualified or seems more confident, but you have a unique perspective to bring to the table, and your employer should recognise that. Growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone – by increasing your portfolio of skills, you continue to make yourself even more employable.

If you feel stagnant in your current role, and your employer can’t enable you to take on new challenges, then don’t be afraid to look elsewhere. Sometimes a fresh place can help you get away from being put in a box by people who have seen you grow up the ranks.

Employers have a role to play

Whilst we’ve focused here on steps you can take as an employee, if you’re a manager or an employer, remember that you have a responsibility to break down barriers for others too. By being a beacon of change, you can both do the right thing and attract top diverse talent to your doors.

Author bio: Isabelle Scott

A legal secretary for over 10 years, Isabelle is passionate about expanding diversity in the legal sector. She believes that a variety of experiences and perspectives is a good thing, and will ultimately change the profession for the better.