How to get to the table

22Oct09

I recently didn’t get invited to a webinar held in my firm, because the people organizing it didn’t realize I’d be interested. I was really annoyed, because it would have cost nothing for me to attend. What’s kind of amusing, though, is I was following one of my colleagues who was tweeting about it as it was going on! So what can I do to make sure the next time I’m included?

Through one of the associations I belong to, Canadian Association of Law Libraries, I have a formal mentoring relationship with a senior library director. I asked her for advice in speaking to my supervising partner. She gave me some great words of wisdom (literally!) that would help me explain what I needed and how my firm could support me to get there. She suggested creating a learning plan, outlining what I need to know to do my job better, and suggesting programs that can help me.

As I thought about how to implement her suggestions, I realized that this comes down to taking responsibility for my career. Through another association I belong to, SLA, I was directed to this article published in Professional Legal Management Week Magazine 2009. Although their members are legal administrators, the issues they face are remarkably similar to the ones I have as a solo. Using both of these sources, I was able to develop some strategies to move my career along and increase my profile within my firm.

I often discuss these types of situations with my library colleagues, and one of them suggested I use this as a brief lunch-time talk with other law library staff. She organized the lunch, and I provided the topic. We didn’t generate as much discussion as I had hoped, but it was a start. It certainly was an auspicious event for me – I was waiting for the elevator with one of our senior partners, and he asked me if I had anything interesting going on. Talk about a great opportunity for an elevator pitch! He was impressed both with what I was doing, and the topic for discussion. I was pleased that he recognized how relevant it was across a whole range of circumstances.

So what am I going to do to make sure I’m invited to the table? Well, to start with, I’m rewriting my job description (I know, I’ve been saying this for months, but now I’m actually going to do it!), and I’m going to look for niches that are not filled here, and figure out how I can take them on. I’ve been networking within my firm since the day I got here, getting to know what each person is interested in, and demonstrating competency to build their trust. I’ll look for opportunities that will help me achieve these goals, and figure out ways to help the firm support me in them.

What’s your plan?

~ Karen

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