How to become a Partner in a law firm

Written by: Ethan Cumming
Published on: 18 Apr 2019

law firm partner

  • Introduction

    For many lawyers, becoming Partner in a firm is the ultimate ambition. Partners enjoy more seniority, a higher salary, more autonomy in business development and a share in the firm’s profits (in the case of equity partners).

    According to recent job inventory data, there has been a notable rise in Partner vacancies on TotallyLegal. In March, the number of Partner roles being advertised increased by 73% year on year.

    If you’re a Senior Associate considering the step up to partnership, a promotion could be right around the corner.

    Think you have what it takes? See below for some essential tips on how to make Partner in a law firm.

  • 1. Go above and beyond expectations

    • Hit your numbers and then some. Make sure that you strive to achieve chargeable / billing targets much higher than your current salary.
    • Focus on gaining a good reputation, not only with your clients but also with your fellow peers. By going the extra mile to exceed targets and bring in work for others, you are ultimately sealing your status as an invaluable asset amongst Partners.

  • 2. Build up your professional network

    • This should be a gradual process and the earlier you can start, the better. The run up to partnership is an incredibly busy time, so don’t leave it until the last minute.
    • Gain referrals through internal networks such as sector groups, or acquire referrals externally through alumni events, trade fairs and professional networking groups.
    • Bear in mind that litigators need more referral networks (4 or more) than non-contentious lawyers do.

  • 3. Think like a Partner

    • Showcase your abilities by thinking and acting like a Partner. In your current role, begin to consider the things a Partner would, including profit and loss responsibilities, leadership and management.
    • Be proactive and show industry awareness as well as adopting critical business thinking to generate more work. By demonstrating Partner level skills, you are setting yourself up well for the role.

  • 4. Be aware of the firm's requirements

    • Make sure that you know the process on how to reach partnership within the firm and understand the firm’s unique business plans and needs.
    • Inform existing partners of your intentions and seek their advice on how to present yourself well and develop your business case for partnership.

  • 5. Consider developing your skillset in-house

    • This is especially relevant for lawyers who haven’t yet been promoted to Senior Associate level but are enticed by the prospects of an early partnership.
    • An in-house environment allows you to focus your attention on the needs of one client, which exposes you to a broad range of work and often has you thinking laterally. Your skillset will be enhanced, which is highly beneficial when returning to a firm to become Partner.

Would you like to take part in an interview about your experience as a law firm Partner? If so, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch on to find out more.

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