Oct 15, 2018

Written By Alex May

How to take on additional responsibility within your firm effectively

Oct 15, 2018

Written By Alex May

Alongside your usual work, you can also organise networking events and take on pro-bono projects or other voluntary work. These can be rewarding and energising, but if you get the balance wrong it can be a headache!

Organising networking events

Organising events is a great way of both growing your network and improving your networking skills. You can either help with (and tap into) an existing network, or you might have noticed a gap that you want to fill with something new.

Start with the purpose of the event. Is it just social, or is the aim to learn something? Do you want to help new people meet, or is it about enjoying and deepening existing connections?

Who is it for, and how will you invite them?

How do you want people to connect? Mingling in an open space is a different atmosphere to seating, and different set-ups also change things. You might also want to consider an activity that will encourage certain types of conversation topics or ways of connecting.

When will work best for this type of event? Keep it concise, as people will be put off by longer things but can always stay longer if they want.

What is needed in terms of refreshments, space and anything else? Most likely your firm is used to these events and will have options to choose from.

What tasks need doing—and who is doing them when? Including the person making sure everything is being done.

Your firm might have a set of guidelines on running networking events too. If you aren’t sure how to go about it, ask someone experienced for a bit of advice.


Taking on CSR and pro-bono projects

Non-legal volunteering and pro-bono work can be rewarding, grounding and different. Pro-bono work is often also legally different to your usual work, allowing you to gain some different experiences. You can get involved with an existing project your firm has or with something externally organised such as the LawWorks network.

Before taking anything on:

Know what you want. What type of responsibility do you want to take on and why? Picking something that suits your skillset and motivates you is quite important!

Check your firm’s policies. Almost all firms recognise pro bono and volunteer work as important, but only some include it as part of hours targets and appraisals. How it fits alongside your usual workload will affect how you take it on and manage it.

Be mindful of your existing workload. How much can you realistically take on, what is your upcoming workload like and how flexible is it?

Being effective

Learn from others! You should be able to find someone in the firm who’s had a similar responsibility, or if not, that’s a great opportunity to make a new connection. Find out what went well, how they did it, what mistakes you should avoid and so on. Be proactive and do this well in advance!

After an event or a particular bit of work, ask for feedback. Make it easy for people to give it by asking them in an open way. At an event, you could hand out prepared bits of paper with a couple of feedback prompts.

Workload management

Unless doing things in a last-minute panic gives you kicks, planning is key. Pro-bono tasks might feel like they’re less important, so you could block out some time to make sure it gets done. Many organising tasks should be done well in advance too, such as inviting people to an event or getting advice on how to do it well.


Consider talking to your supervisor(s) about the additional responsibilities you might take on. It would be risky to take on significant additional responsibilities if they weren’t supportive, and this makes it easier to be proactive about potential clashes or if a particularly busy period is coming up.


Professional Networking