There are no shortcuts to becoming a member of the partnership. The reality of today’s business of law is that there are far more associates than partnership positions. We understand-or should understand-that becoming a partner involves many factors beyond your control-such as firm politics; the current state of the marketplace and the demand for lawyers in your practice area. In fact many observers of the law firm partnership track suggest that the “deal” that associates had with their law firm regarding the partnership track has changed dramatically over the past few years.
From lengthening the time it takes to become a partner to hiring lateral partners to making partnership a less attractive status than it once was (more stress and less compensation) firms have been delivering a new message in recent years.
That having been said talented associates will have to master the following three steps in order to be considered for partnership at their firm:
- We all hear the mantra of the billable hour from the time we start in private practice. This is the time when the quantity and the quality of your hours will be a major part of any partnership discussion. In short-you will need to do the time. A subset of the billable hour is ownership. Associates are evaluated on whether they take ownership of the projects they work on. This means acting in a professional manner in terms of the law and your firm’s finances so as to create no liability or unnecessary expenses.
- The reality of today’s practice of law is that it is a business. You will need to cultivate your business development skills to the extent that the current partners have confidence in your ability to bring in new business to the firm and to maintain or build on the partner-associate ratio crucial for firm success.
- Finally you need a mentor. Do you have a partner prepared to champion your cause and state your case with the partnership? Someone who can help you navigate through the law firm, cares about your success, will give you honest feedback and will speak positively about you to others who you don’t work with but can ultimately influence your advancement?
Master all of the above and you should be enjoying the celebration as the next partner at your firm.
October 10, 2008