Young women and education, close up of hands of girl studying for college exam in park. Side view, copy spaceWhen you play to your strengths you become much more successful. Typically there are three different types of partner. When you know your key strengths you can work towards becoming the right type of partner for your talents and strengths. In this blog post Heather Townsend shares an exclusive extract from the 2nd edition of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (Click here for a free sample chapter) and explores the 3 main types of partner in a Big 4, Magic Circle or Mid Tier firm.

The 3 different types of partner

Partners typically split into three types:

Rainmakers: These have a reputation for being very skilled at winning new work.

Leaders: These are given specific leadership and managerial responsibilities for running part or all of the firm.

Technical specialists: These have a deep level of technical expertise in a particular specialism, which is of strategic importance to the firm.

Most firms, regardless of their size, have now recognized that their partners need to be well-rounded individuals who can first and foremost develop their own client portfolio. Consequently, it is now extremely rare for a professional to make partner purely based on their technical expertise. Many firms have created a new job role, e.g. “Legal Director”, “Principal”, to enable them to retain their prized technical specialists who do not have the capability to make partner.

Being a partner solely based on your technical expertise means that you may be more vulnerable – changes in the legal framework, marketplace or technology can wipe out the requirement for your technical expertise. For example, the recession after the 2008–09 UK property market crash caused a severe contraction in the business available to property specialists, such as corporate financiers, property lawyers and tax specialists. The senior and expensive property professionals who were weak business developers were the first people to lose their jobs in the recession.