There are many reasons why your application for partnership is not accepted. Here are the five most common mistakes aspiring partners make when they apply for admission to the partnership.
1. Not building up a fan base in the partnership
Until you are a partner you do not have the right to sit at the partnership table. Your partners will, behind closed doors, discuss whether or not you are a suitable person to make partner and join the partnership. The more vocal supporters of your cause, the greater the likelihood that you will get the right result from the vote. Unsurprisingly the stronger your fan base, the less it matters as to what you have written in your personal business case for partnership. (For help to build your fan base with your partners, See 8 ways of building up your fan base with your partners – Part 1 & Part 2)
2. Writing their personal business case for partnership in isolation
Your personal business case for partnership, whether you are a lawyer, accountant or consultant, needs to be written in consultation with not just the partners in your department but partners across the firm. Depending on how your partnership admissions process works, you may find that to make partner every partner in your firm needs to give you the thumbs up. Consequently, the more partners who feel as if they have had a say in your business case and have been involved in the writing of it, the stronger the chance that you get the green light. Particularly if those partners are the movers, shapers and groovers!
3. Setting a fixed time frame for when they will make partner
You (and your partners) can not predict what may happen in the market place. Additionally, there may be better and stronger candidates for partnership ahead of you. Which are two reasons why equity partners generally get very annoyed when ‘young whippersnappers’ decide on when they are going to make partner. By all means set a general timeframe, just make sure it’s not a ‘fixed, must be this year’, type of timeframe. When the partners add in a new equity partner, they are in effect sharing equity in the firm with the newly promoted partner. Consequently, it will always be their decision, not your decision when you will make partner. Don’t forget this!
4. Becoming over-fixated on their technical ability
When you become a partner you get a P45 (in the UK you receive a P45 when you stop being an employee of a company) and become an owner of the firm. As a result, it is no longer about your technical ability, it’s about your ability to grow the firm, build & lead a team, win clients and bring something extra to the partnership. (For more details, read ‘Your personal business case for partnership: Don’t become fixated on your technical ability)
5. Not spending enough time on putting together their personal business case for partnership
Your personal business case for partnership is not something you can write up in a weekend. Ideally you want to be working on this at least 18-24 months before you want to be admitted to the partnership. To help you form your business case, you want to complete a series of conversations with partners inside and outside of your department, to canvas their opinions on your personal business plan. (For more details of what should go in your personal business case, see ‘what should go in your personal business case for partnership‘)