I am often talking with people whose careers have seemingly come to a full stop in their firm. Sometimes this is fixable, and other times it isn’t. This 2 part blog post is a round up of the seven common reasons why people’s careers do come to a full stop at their firm.

1. You don’t want to go further in the firm

This is a fairly obvious reason. After all, not everyone wants to climb the dizzy heights to partner. Maybe the thought of business development is putting you off taking your career to the next level. However, if you let your career come to a stop, then you do become vulnerable. This is because firms need to have a steady progression of people up (or out) through the firm. Otherwise, they get left with a ‘stuck’ concrete middle management layer, and no way through for the younger keen talent – who typically will leave as a result of this.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to stay as a manager, senior associate or director, but be aware that you may need to down-size your firm from time to time, or seriously think about a stint in industry.

2. You have been given a low performance grade

With firms being pretty trigger happy over the last 5 years, a low performance grade is a big black mark against your name in a firm. Very often, a low performance grade will permanently tarnish your reputation in your firm. This is because, if you are known to be a low performer then partners and assignment managers will not want to use you on their jobs. Consequently, your billing declines, and you don’t get the opportunities to turn around the low performance grade.

3. Key influencers in the partnership don’t rate you

This is pretty similar to being given a low performance grade. For your career to fly in a firm, you need to have some heavy-weight partners on your side. This is how you get given the opportunities to show you are ready for the next level up. Without these key influencers being on your side, you will struggle to get anything other than average performance grades, and consequently, your career will probably stall. You may find that a move to a different office in the firm may help you. Otherwise, it’s time to brush up your CV and look for a new start.


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