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Law Firm Partner Job Description

Written by: Evie Courtier
Published on: 15 Nov 2023


  • Often considered as a significant milestone in a lawyer’s or solicitor’s career, becoming a partner in a law firm requires experience, expertise, and the reputation as a leader in your field. A position of seniority, working as a partner will see you conduct the management of a law firm, generating revenue, and partaking in the ownership of stake in the firm. Within this Partner job description, we shall discuss the responsibilities of a Partner, earning potential, and what it takes to become a Partner in your field.

    Discover the latest Law Firm Partner jobs on TotallyLegal. Whether you’re seeking a new role as a specialist Partner in Corporate Finance / M&A, navigating the world of Partner jobs in Commercial Litigation, or looking for a Partner job in Employment.

  • What does a Partner do in a Law Firm?

    Typically structured in a hierarchical manner, partners have a varying range of seniority and responsibility, depending on the size and composition of the firm. The criteria for advancement to partner will differ by factors of legal expertise, business development success, and overall contributions to the firm's success.

    In a UK law firm, there are different types of partners, each with varying levels of responsibilities, rights, and financial arrangements. The specific titles and distinctions can differ between firms, but as a basis, the common types of partner are:

    • Equity Partners: equity partners are typically considered full owners of the firm. They have a financial stake in the business and share in the profits and losses of the firm. Equity partners often have voting rights in important firm decisions and play a significant role in the overall management and governance of the firm.
    • Non-Equity Partners (Salaried Partners): non-equity partners, also known as salaried partners, do not have an ownership stake in the firm. Instead, they receive a fixed salary or a salary with a bonus based on their individual or team performance. While they may not participate in the firm's profit-sharing to the same extent as equity partners, they often have substantial responsibilities in terms of client work, management, and business development.
    • Junior Partners or Income Partners: some firms may have a tier of partners known as junior partners or income partners. These individuals may have a smaller financial stake in the firm compared to equity partners and may be on a track to becoming equity partners in the future. They contribute to the firm's revenue but may not have the same level of decision-making authority as equity partners.
    • Managing Partner: the managing partner is responsible for the overall leadership and management of the law firm. This role involves making strategic decisions, overseeing day-to-day operations, and representing the firm externally. The managing partner may or may not also be an equity partner.

  • What does a role as a Partner entail?

    Put simply, a partner in a law firm will have a say in the management and decision making processes within the firm, participating in partnership meetings, and shaping the firm's strategic direction. Working as a partner in a law firm requires you to have expert knowledge within your practice area, whether you’re a specialist in Family Law, Commercial Property, or another legal niche. You will be responsible for generating new business, maintaining client relationships, overseeing the work of junior staff and will often conduct a mentoring role.

    Key responsibilities and characteristics of a Partner will include:

    • Ownership and Leadership: having an ownership stake in the firm, sharing the profits and having a say in the firm's management and decision-making processes. Partners may participate in key strategic decisions that affect the direction and policies of the firm.
    • Client Relationships: working in a partner job will see you play a crucial role in developing and maintaining client relationships. Law firm partners hold responsibility for attracting new clients, retaining existing ones, and ensuring client satisfaction. Building a strong client base is essential for the success of the firm.
    • Legal Practice: partners are typically experienced lawyers who have demonstrated a high level of expertise in a specific area of law. They may continue to handle legal cases, provide legal advice, and represent clients in court. However, the extent to which they engage in day-to-day legal work may vary based on the firm's structure and their management responsibilities.
    • Business Development: working as a law firm partner will see you involved in business development activities, such as networking, attending industry events, and marketing the firm's services. They may work to expand the firm's client base and enhance its reputation in the legal community.
    • Mentoring and Training: partners often mentor junior lawyers and associates within the firm. They may provide guidance on legal matters, professional development, and career advancement. They contribute to the training and development of the firm's legal talent.
    • Compliance and Ethics: partners are typically responsible for ensuring that the firm and its lawyers adhere to ethical and professional standards. They may oversee compliance with legal regulations, ethical guidelines, and internal policies.

  • How do you become a Partner?

    The achievement of becoming a partner within a firm comes with a dedicated career, strong experience with business development, and a natural flair for what you do. The specific criteria for partnership can vary between firms. Certain law firms may have formal partnership tracks or specific requirements for admission to the partnership, while others may have a more informal process. Communication with existing partners and an understanding of the firm's expectations are crucial steps in the path towards becoming a partner.

    Legal Qualifications and Experience:

    • For starters, it’s a given that you will have obtained a law degree (LLB) and completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
    • You will have gained practical legal experience through a training contract (solicitors) or pupillage (barristers), and accumulated several years of post-qualification experience (PQE) in a specific area of law.

    Proven Legal Expertise:

    • Developing expertise in a specific legal practice area is a strong requirement for becoming a partner. Partners are experts in their field, and clients are more likely to trust and retain lawyers with a proven track record of success.

    Client Development and Business Generation:

    • Actively contributing to the acquisition and retention of clients and building a strong client base is a crucial aspect of becoming a partner. Successful business development may involve networking, cultivating relationships, and showcasing your legal skills.

    Billing and Financial Contribution:

    • Contribute significantly to the firm's financial success by generating billable hours or fees. Partners are expected to contribute to the firm's revenue, and candidates for partnership should demonstrate their ability to generate business.

    Team Collaboration:

    • Demonstrate a willingness and ability to work collaboratively with colleagues. Partners need to be team players and should be able to collaborate effectively with other lawyers and staff within the firm.

    Management and Leadership Skills:

    • Develop management and leadership skills. This may involve taking on supervisory roles, leading projects, or participating in the management of the firm. Leadership qualities are often valued in partner candidates.

    Client Satisfaction:

    • Ensure high levels of client satisfaction. Contented clients are more likely to provide repeat business and referrals, contributing to the firm's success.

    Networking and Professional Involvement:

    • Engage in networking activities within the legal community and relevant industries. Participation in professional organisations and industry events can enhance your visibility and reputation.

    Contribution to Firm Culture:

    • Impart positively to the firm's culture and values. Firms often look for partners who align with the organisation's ethos and can contribute to a positive working environment.

    Proposal for Partnership:

    • In many cases, the process involves putting forth a proposal for partnership. This may include outlining your contributions to the firm, business development successes, and your vision for the future.

    Evaluation and Decision:

    • The firm's existing partners or a partnership committee will typically evaluate your candidacy. The decision to admit a new partner is based on various factors, including financial performance, client development, and overall contributions to the firm.

  • Career progression: development after becoming Partner

    Once an individual has achieved the position of partner in a law firm, there are several potential career paths and opportunities for further professional development. The specific trajectory will depend on an individual's goals, the firm's structure, and the legal market, nonetheless, the common opportunities are:

    Senior or Managing Partner:

    • Within the partner ranks, there may be additional leadership positions such as a senior partner or managing partner as aforementioned. Senior partners often have a wealth of experience and play a crucial role in guiding the firm's strategic direction. The managing partner on the other hand is typically responsible for the overall management and administration of the firm.

    Practice Group or Department Head:

    • Partners may take on leadership roles within specific practice areas or departments. This involves overseeing the work of lawyers and staff in that area, setting strategic goals, and ensuring the quality of legal services.

    Specialisation and Expertise:

    • Some may choose to deepen their expertise in a particular area of law or expand their practice into new areas. Specialisation can enhance one's reputation, attract high-profile clients, and contribute to the firm's standing in the legal community.

    Mentorship and Training:

    • Experienced partners often play a role in mentoring junior lawyers and providing guidance to the next generation of legal professionals. They may also contribute to the training and professional development programs within the firm.

    Board Memberships and External Roles:

    • Some partners may seek opportunities to serve on boards of legal or industry organisations, participate in community leadership roles, or take on positions in professional associations. This can enhance their visibility and contribute to the firm's reputation.

    Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or Mediation:

    • Other partners may transition to roles in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or mediation, using their legal expertise to help parties resolve disputes outside of the courtroom.

    Academia and Legal Writing:

    • A common pathway for those who enjoy the written side of things is to transition to roles in academia, teaching law at universities or contributing to legal scholarship through writing articles or books.

    Part-Time Consulting:

    • As partners approach retirement, some may choose to reduce their workload, take on part-time consulting roles, or retire from the firm while remaining active in the legal community.

  • How much can you earn working as a Partner?

    Earnings for those in Partner jobs on site averages £225,000. The salary of a law firm partner varies widely based on factors such as the location of the law firm, the size and prestige of the firm, the partner's level of experience and expertise, book of business (client base), and the type of law practised. Additionally, the structure of compensation, whether the partner is an equity or non-equity partner, and the financial performance of the firm can all influence partner compensation.

    In large and prestigious law firms, equity partners, who have an ownership stake in the firm, typically earn higher incomes than non-equity partners. Equity partners often share in the firm's profits and losses and may have more substantial financial responsibilities within the firm.

    On the other hand, non-equity partners, sometimes referred to as salaried partners, receive a fixed salary or a salary with a bonus based on their performance. Non-equity partners may have a lower income compared to equity partners, but they still play significant roles in the firm and may have the potential to earn bonuses based on their contributions. Often a six figure salary, making partnership, will see you reach high end earning potential.