How many of your peers when you started as a trainee or junior wanted to make partner? After all, isn’t that you are expected to do as a new entrant into a professional services firm? Make partner, and achieve the kudos, status and fiscal reward which is perceived to come with the title of ‘partner’. In an interview with Jo Larbie, my co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’, Jo talked about this need to stop and think. In fact, the first question which Jo asks prospective partners is:

Why do you want to make partner?

As Jo and I both know, that it’s very easy for people to strive, decide they want to make partner and not really think about what it means. Let’s answer that question now, what does making partner really mean? It means:

  • as Toni Hunter and Myfanwy Neville told me in an interview, making partner equals the buck stops with you.
  • You now own a small part of the firm – however, you may not have much influence as a junior partner in how things are done. (Let’s be realistic here)
  • You now have the responsibility to feed not just yourself, but your team and potentially others within your firm. Yes, you need to grow your own client portfolio.

In my interview with Jo, she talked about a junior partner who came to see her and told her that he hated being a partner.

The constant pressure, and the need to always be doing more and build a business was too much for him.

This junior partner had only focused on the status which comes with being a partner, rather than what it actually meant. So, how do you decide whether partnership within your current firm is right for you?

  1. Identify 2-4 partners who you trust within your firm
  2. Have a confidential conversation with them about what it takes and means to be a partner in the firm
  3. Listen to what they have to say!
  4. Then take some time to reflect and try on for size being a partner in your firm, not just for 1 year, but 20-30 years. I.e. are you excited about what it takes and means to be a partner in your firm?
  5. If the answer is yes, then there is probably a fit between you and your firm and your partnership ambitions

Have you stopped and thought about ‘why’ you wanted to make partner?  

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