Hong Kong Lawyer

April 2017

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What Women Want: Career Management Ideas for Women in Law By Karishma Khemaney, Senior Consultant Lewis Sanders M ore women than ever are choosing a career in law – over the past 15 years Hong Kong's legal profession has seen an increase in female lawyers entering the profession and they now constitute around 50 percent of Hong Kong's legal professionals. However, the numbers at the most senior end of the career spectrum in law firms – partners, particularly equity partners – paints another picture. Even though women no longer face the same challenges they encountered 30 years ago, conservative social attitudes still play an element in shaping the female narrative. Conventional wisdom suggests that it is only a matter of time before women climb the ranks to partnership. However, this rationale does not stack up when applied to the legal profession that has employed a critical mass of women for many years. As competition for legal talent increases (and with women making up a significant amount of the talent pool at the entry level), retaining and advancing women's careers is essential for law firms seeking to attain a competitive advantage. This article outlines career management ideas for women that can have an important impact on career satisfaction, success and longevity. Be Smart About Managing Your Career The beginning of your career is the time to start taking a long term view on your professional goals and to have a plan for the next three to five years. You are free to change it as time passes, but it is important to have a professional development plan. Hard work alone does not necessarily guarantee the career you want or are qualified to do: you also need to make the right decisions regarding career direction and the platform that will best support your growth. Failure to do this can see you work in an area designated by your firm rather than one based on your own personal interests, which can be difficult to change due to the firm's business needs or your own inertia. Therefore, understand how the choices you make at the beginning of your career have a lasting impact and be passionate about the path you choose. Take notice of whether there are female partners and other women in the senior ranks of the practice you have chosen. As you progress, start building your skillset and carving out a niche practice or set of clients that will make you indispensable. Becoming a specialist in a niche area 66 www.hk-lawyer.org •  April 2017

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