Your business case to make partner in a law firm

In this article, I share the common mistakes I see in business cases for a partner in a law firm. Whilst these are largely similar to the mistakes made by other professionals in practice, a few crop up time and time again in lawyers’ business cases for partnership. These mistakes almost always keep a great lawyer from taking the next step up to partner.

Hitting and explaining your figures

You are unlikely to get the chance to pitch a business case for partner in a law firm if you’ve not been hitting your billing targets. That’s pretty much a given. Your numbers typically need to be stated yearly for the last three years. However, don’t make the mistake of not explaining why some of your numbers may not be up to target. There may be a perfectly good reason. You could be a litigator and be at a time in the economic cycle where litigation work is scarce. Maybe, as some of our clients have found, you have been off maternity leave, which is why your billable hours and revenue have dipped for a while. Or, if you are an insolvency lawyer, you will find that your lockup will be much higher than other lawyers as you only get paid at the end of the insolvency process.

Have a structure for your Business Case

Most law firms have a form or checklist you need to conform to for your partner Business Case. It can be tempting to fill in the form blindly, but the best Business Cases for law firm partners are written without the form and then reordered to fit. Before you start filling in the form, think about the key messages you want to come through. What is the story you want to tell? Then, start to fill in the form.

Keep it brief

You may have spent hours and hours crafting your Business Case for partner. However, it is extremely unlikely that all your firm’s partners will read your Business Case carefully right through to the end. In fact, I heard of one firm that employed an external consultant to summarise each Business Case to cut down the amount partners had to read. A number of law firms that I work with restrict their lawyers to only write 2-3 pages on their Business Case in their partnership admissions process.

Example Talk sheet

If you can’t articulate the crux of your Business Case in 3-4 paragraphs, then you have a problem. A great Business Case for partner in a law firm tends to be succinct and to the point. One of the best ways of condensing down your Business Case for partner is to create a Talk Sheet. See left for an example of a professionally designed Talk Sheet of a real and successful business case for partner.

The best Talk Sheet tends to be 3-4 visuals accompanied by a small amount of text. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Of course, it would make your life much easier if you could use our Talk Sheet template as the starting point for your own Talk Sheet. That’s why we put it into a Powerpoint presentation which you can easily change the data and colour scheme to make your own.

Click here to download the FREE template we used to make this Talk Sheet to build your own Talk Sheet in under 60 minutes.

This Talk Sheet can be used to help you pitch your business case for partner both informally and formally in your Partner Panel Interview. The Talk Sheet is just one of the resources in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner.

In the course “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”, included for premium members of Progress To Partner, you’ll be taken step-by-step through how to put together your Business Case, then use tools and resources like our Pitch Deck and The Talk Sheet to ace your partner panel interview.

We think membership of Progress To Partner is a must-have in your arsenal of tools and guidance to help with your career progression. The membership site has a section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you find your way through the process. Check it out!

Here’s a snippet of our recorded masterclass, ‘How to ace your Partner Panel Interview’ which is in our Progress To Partner membership site. This snippet of the masterclass talks about the importance of ditching the slides and using a Talk Sheet. Watch the video to how Josh was seen to have done the best ever presentation at his Partner Panel Interview by using a Talk Sheet and ditching the text-heavy slides.

Verified and quantified

Most lawyers can write well. The thing is, your law firm Business Case for partner isn’t an essay. Nor should it be full of what I call marketing puffery. You know, the empty statements such as ‘great with clients’. Anyone can write these, and I’ve read many in Business Cases for partner. The question is, how can you prove you are great with clients? How can you evidence the promise of your Business Case? After all, words are cheap; results and actions take time, skill and commitment. A winning Business Case for partner doesn’t have to be difficult to write nor packed with every piece of information you can think of. It needs to be compelling, punchy, and impossible to refute. A great way to get your law firm business case for partner punchy (and devoid of any marketing puffery) is to condense it down to 3-4 visuals and a small amount of text. Just as you would need to do with a TalkSheet. Click here to download the FREE template we used to make this Talk Sheet to build your own Talk Sheet in under 60 minutes.

What’s in Progress To Partner which will help you with your law firm Business Case?

Progress to Partner is our membership site that will give your the knowledge AND confidence to fly through this final step up to partner.

It’s like a Netflix for your career in the professions. Find what you need to watch or read at the time you need it. Within the site, you’ll find over 150+ courses, videos, checklists, templates and plans to help you progress your career to partner. Amongst the many curated resources (no more unnecessary scrolling or searching), you’ll find:

  1. On-demand courses on how to create and articulate your Business Case, including our most downloaded course “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”
  2. A section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you find your way through the process with your sanity intact.
  3. Recordings, templates and checklists on how to ace your partner panel interview
  4. Proven advice on how to still do the day job, hit your billable targets and find the time to get through the Partner Track process

Check it out!

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