By Daniel Bulusson, ESQ
On July, 18, 2019 members of the Young Wig Network got a broadcast message to their whatsapp group from Senator Iyere Ihenyen, Esq encouraging members to partake in the SWOT analysis for lawyers, and I asked what is SWOT?
And then he went further to enlighten the house, SWOT is an abbreviation for Strength. Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats. SWOT is a very useful way of discovering your strength in the industry, understanding your weaknesses, identifying opportunities around you, and managing any threats that come your way. According to Senator Iyere Ihenyen, “A SWOT analysis is essential for anyone that wants to maximize his or her ability, it helps a legal professional find career path, develop career options, and help utilize the opportunities in the industry”
A 21st century lawyer is not just a person but a professional brand that exists just as business outfits do, because in today’s market a legal professional is not just an individual, but a brand, a professional brand with competing professional colleagues. Which then begs the question, how does an interested legal professional use SWOT analysis to reposition his or her legal career?
The first step is to identify your strength, what are the things you know you are great at? what do others say you are great at? What do you do better than anyone else? What unique resources can you draw upon that others can’t? What do people see as your strengths? What makes you stand out from the crowd? What is your professional Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that makes you stand out from the crowd? Answers to these questions will reveal the inner strength of a legal professional.
Second step is to spot your weaknesses before it destroys your legal career, in the words of George C. Lichtenberg “[o]nce we know our weaknesses they cease to do us any harm”, to spot weaknesses as a legal professional one must answer questions like, what do you struggle with? Are their Tasks that you don’t perform well or areas you receive criticism on? When do you struggle with them and why? Do you lack experience, credentials or skills? What makes you loose confidence? What are those things your competitors will confidently identify as your weakness if they were to analyze you?
Third step is to identify opportunities, and opportunities are a matter of perspective, if you don’t see opportunities around you it is because you have not positioned yourself in the right place. To expand career opportunities a legal professional must learn to network, invest in professional development, engage in volunteering works, explore new or emerging areas in law, take advantage of new legislations or regulations, acquire soft skills that stand you out, and think local but act global.
Lastly, is to spot the threats that are waiting to happen, or likely to reduce your performance as a legal professional like poor funding, disruptive technologies, competition, weak academic performances, poor communication skills e.tc so to make this practical I did the SWOT analysis, and discovered the following;
My strength (S) is writing, and known by colleagues for my passion in Media and Journalism, weakness (W) is financial mismanagement, inability to save, opportunities (O) are the free time I have to engage in other areas of law like probate, properties and corporate governance, since am not a fan of litigation, and the threat (T) being the fact there are not many who appreciate a lawyer engaged in practice other than litigation, and there are few law firms with platforms to improve media and journalism. So what next, after my SWOT analysis?
Mr Senator Iyere Ihenyen went to further to explain how to reposition after a SWOT analysis, 1. Invest more resources i.e time and money in developing your strengths; imbibe interdisciplinary approach to law by finding your own path in media law. 2. With your strengths, you don’t only connect to opportunities around you, but create opportunities for yourself. For example, media lawyers are like water in the sahara desert in this part of the world, thus, you can create opportunities for yourself by creating a media law firm or partnering with others. Finally by focusing on the strengths and opportunities in one (1) and two (2) above weaknesses will be deemphasized and career threats minimized.
Becoming successful in the industry is a journey, not a destination, thus I urge every legal professional to take the SWOT analysis to reposition themselves in the profession. The 21st generation lawyer has to do things differently to get a fruitful and rewarding result.