Find out how to build a strong foundation to find a career path you can thrive on as a lawyer or in any other capacity in the legal profession with an informed SWOT analysis.

The difference between working to survive as a lawyer and working to thrive at it is a question of how effectively you’re adapting. And as a human, you can always learn to adapt better. This post offers the first of five workbooks in our Career Research and Development Series, introduced here.

People who have achieved success and happiness in their careers are clear about their strengths and opportunities. A SWOT analysis is a strategy to identify your Strengths and Weaknesses alongside the Opportunities for and Threats to your career success.

Your SWOT analysis will clarify how you can navigate your opportunities and threats by displaying whether you’re already strong in, or need to develop, the skills required to take optimal action. This workbook will help inform your SWOT analysis by helping you notice more about yourself and your world. With more and better data, you can make better decisions about what to do to get the career and life that is right for you right now.

This process is designed to give you the strongest foundation possible as you plan your career strategy. Collecting and analyzing data from your perspective, others’ perspectives, and the outside world will empower you to:

  1. Communicate Strengths Better
  2. Use Strengths More Effectively
  3. Address Weaknesses that are Obstacles

ACTION STEPS CHECKLIST. This workbook will guide you through activities in three parts: Look Outside, Look Inside, and Look Forward.

▢ Seek out new ideas and document your progress.
▢ Create a trends map of your opportunities and threats.
▢ Review your current resume and LinkedIn profile.
▢ Explore LinkedIn and online job banks.
▢ Create a summary of your LinkedIn and job board research.
▢ Answer self-reflection questions.
▢ Request and collect others’ perspectives.
▢ Collect, review, and summarize the data from others’ perspectives.
▢ Create your Gap Analysis table.
▢ Fill in your SWOT analysis template.

PART ONE: LOOK OUTSIDE

Reality matters. There’s more information available to observe about reality than ever to learn about what changes are happening and why.

It’s a waste of time to pursue a career objective defined by a set of skills for which there is a low demand and a high supply. It will be difficult to stand out and demonstrate your unique fit for a career opportunity.

It’s a missed opportunity to live unaware of the trends in today’s world or how others experience your skills and weaknesses.

You’ll need the best data possible to make the best decisions and create the most effective career path for your areas of interests and energy. When you look outside of yourself for information, you leverage the power of keen observation and your network of relationships.

Always remember that with the benefit of others you expand your power to notice and create new opportunities and construct and execute a career strategy that leads you to success and happiness.

The following activities will help you document your progress as you search your environment for new idea inputs.

ACTIVITY 1: Seek Novelty

It’s easier to find new ideas if you change your habits. Choose a new path to travel to work. Choose new stores for shopping, new restaurants and recipes for nourishment and conversation, new periodicals to read, new shows to watch, new people to meet, and new places to look for news and information. Keep up with new technology, economics, demographic changes, and pop-culture. Watch new sports teams play and take up a new sport for fun. Until you change your routine, you’ll continue to notice the same things and miss the next inspirational idea that could change your life.

Use this Activity Sheet to place a checkmark next to any suggested ideas you’ve tried and write in your own ideas to try out something new on these novelty source lists.

ACTIVITY 2: Observe Trends

When it comes to innovation intelligence, we miss opportunities everyday because we’re not very good at noticing. Before jumping into the next activity, you can assess your visual intelligence with this quiz. Then, get five tips to improve your noticing skills here.

Use this Activity Sheet to add trends that you notice as you explore your world in the appropriate chart area.

ACTIVITY 3: Collect Data

Now you’ll have the opportunity to apply your lawyerly research skills to your own personal career growth. The data you discover will help you decide what strengths to focus on developing.

Use this Activity Sheet to follow the research prompts and collect the data you need.

ACTIVITY 4: Summarize Data

Asking the right questions will help you document clear direction for immediate action you can take to develop valuable strengths.

Use this Activity Sheet to chart your data.

PART TWO: LOOK INSIDE

Introspection is an empowering tool.

It’s a waste of time to pursue a career objective without the necessary array of technical skills and core leadership, strategy, and communication skills. It’s akin to having a great plan for a road trip, a car that is in perfect condition, and then forgetting to put gas in the tank.

It’s difficult at best to change the way other people feel, think, and behave. One person rarely changes world trends. As difficult as it seems to change how you feel, feel, and behave, you have the power to do that. It’s a missed opportunity not to use the power you have to make a positive difference in your personal and professional life.

Self-awareness is the starting point for change. Self-awareness is the process of considering what the data you collect from self-reflection and from others about their perceptions of you mean and what you want to do to improve your skill set.

Accept reality first, then decide what to do to change it and create an effective skill development plan.

ACTIVITY 1: Self Reflection

The questions in this activity are designed to gain insight into your perception of your technical and core strategy, leadership, and communication strengths.

Use this Activity Sheet to document your answers.

ACTIVITY 2: Collect Data

How do others perceive your skills? Ask. You need to know how other people experience working or otherwise interacting with you.

The following survey is designed for you to give to AT LEAST TEN colleagues, coworkers, friends, family, mentors, teachers and clients. Ideally, you should set up a free account on Survey Monkey with the questions. This will enable you to collect anonymous feedback, which will encourage the people you ask to respond with honest feedback.

When you ask your people for their feedback, do so both orally and in writing. Explain that Survey Monkey allows for anonymity and clarify that your settings will not allow you to find who provided what answers. Tell them that you are seriously engaged in self-development and career advancement and will use this information to decide how to build the strongest foundation possible for your career, and that you’ll genuinely appreciate critical feedback. Once you’ve input the survey questions using the instructions provided, your survey should look like this.

Use this Activity Sheet to find instructions and inputs for your feedback survey.

PART THREE: LOOK FORWARD

A skill development strategy begins with reviewing and analyzing the data on the skills you have and those that you need. One of your regular career development tasks should include updating the data regularly.

Displaying the information in a SWOT analysis will facilitate your strategic developmental plans.

ACTIVITY 1: Data Analysis

Transition a summary of the data you collected from other people assessing your skills into guidance on which behaviors you should demonstrate more often and which you should demonstrate less to create more effective, successful relationships with others and your work.

Use this Activity Sheet to chart your data analysis.

ACTIVITY 2: Gap Analysis

Compare the strengths you have with the strengths you need by completing a gap analysis using the data collected from your LinkedIn and Job Description research, your self-reflection, and your survey of others’ perceptions.

Use this Activity Sheet to chart your gap analysis.

ACTIVITY 3: SWOT Analysis

Apply the data acquired through the previous activities into a SWOT analysis table, which will display your Strengths and Weaknesses alongside Opportunities and Threats.

Use this Activity Sheet to complete your SWOT analysis.

ACTIVITY 4: Deeper Dive (Optional)

The Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers team can help you accept and understand your strengths and weaknesses better, and help you identify first action steps to start building momentum to overcome any inertia you’re facing. LCL is a free (and confidential!) for lawyers, law students, and other legal professionals in Massachusetts, and can connect those in other states with services available to them.

A LOMAP practice advisor can give you an overview on working with a consultant or coach certified to administer a 360ᴼ assessment (such as the Korn-Ferry Voice 360ᴼ) and offer referrals. Click here to get started booking your meeting if these activities gave you momentum to analyze more data on others’ perceptions of your leadership skills. LOMAP is a program of LCL’s free (and confidential!) services for Massachusetts lawyers, law students, and other legal professionals.

CONCLUDE WITH ACTION

In this workbook, you learned how to collect data about your strengths and weaknesses and how certain job opportunities are defined and explained in the career marketplace.

The data you collected and reviewed provide a laundry list of selection criteria that will be used by others to evaluate who you are, what you can do, and your personality.

The exercises you completed gave you the chance to practice an important strategy skills – the ability to collect and analyze data for making evidence-based decisions about goals and actions to move your career forward or advance any strategy project you work on.

List the actions you will take and review your progress at the end of each day:

  1. What will you do to better communicate your strengths?
  2. What will you do to use your strengths more effectively?
  3. What will you do to address any weaknesses that are obstacles to your success?

Congratulations on finishing Workbook 1 — the first step is the hardest! Schedule time to complete the next so you don’t lose your momentum:

  • VALUES [Workbook 2]. Revisit your values, beliefs, assumptions and unconscious biases and their impact on your most important decisions.
  • BRAND [Workbook 3]Rebrand yourself so that your project a strong, professional presence and people remember you exactly as you want them to.
  • PURPOSE [Workbook 4]. Repurpose your passion into a driver of your success and happiness.
  • PATH [Workbook 5]Chart your course forward with clear goals, a step-by-step action plan, and insight for implementation accountability.