In this article, I share with you the clues which you need to be looking for to understand what the partners will require from the future firm’s partners. Regardless of whether you are a lawyer, accountant or consultant, these clues will form part of your personal and business case for partnership. This blog post was taken from our 35 minute podcast ‘creating a winning business case for partnership’ Firstly, technical ability will not be enough on its own to make partner in your partnership. A great technician is likely to stop as a senior associate, salaried partner or director. To get to partner you need to bring something extra to the partnership table – something that they need. Hence, why technical ability is not enough to get you a place at the partnership table.
1. Partners getting near to retirement age
In most partnership agreements there is a clause for what age partners need to retire by. It’s not always set in stone, but not unusual for partnerships to force out their older members. Very often the retiring partner has a client portfolio which will need someone to take it over. That person could be you. Do you have a good connection with that partner? Do you have the right skills to take over his portfolio. Maybe more importantly, do you want to take over this partner’s client portfolio? It may not be in the best of health! (Our article on what due diligence should I do on my firm before buying in may come in handy here).
2. Technical areas or sectors becoming very important to the firm
Look at your firm’s business plans – where do they see the growth coming for the firm? Growth in a practice area is always an opportunity for aspiring partners to grow a portfolio and stake a claim at the partnership table. Don’t just look at the firm’s business plans, do your homework and spend time talking with partners in the firm. Where do they see the growth coming from in their firm? What are the technical areas which are being more important to the firm?
3. Areas of the practice which are ‘light’ on partners
Sometimes a part of the firm becomes very successful – and there is too much work for the existing partners to handle. Consequently, this may be an opportunity for you to make partner in that area (with the right technical skills). The partners in the department will need to be able to have an extra pair of hands to handle the client relationships – which is an opportunity for you.
4. Departments where senior professionals have exited the firm and left a gap
There is always a pecking order and hierarchy within a firm. However, this can sometimes get disrupted by prospective partners leaving the firm before they get there. Not only does this create opportunities for you to get your hands on more responsibility earlier, but there are less people ahead of you to make partner before you. In summary, there are no hard and fast rules where the next partner will come from in the firm. Do your homework and look around you – there maybe an opportunity begging for you to take an advantage of. Make sure your personal business case for partnership shows how you are THE person to strengthen the partnership.