a man walking on train tracks to symbolise how to get put on the partner track

This article is based on a virtual workshop that we ran in 2020/21  It was the  Acing the Partnership Admissions Process Virtual Masterclass. If you want to listen to the whole masterclass, join the Progress to Partner membership site 

Scroll down to read the article or click the video link to listen to a snippet of the Masterclass.

4 things you must do to get put on the partner track

view from the steering wheel of a car to represent driving your own career for how to get put on the partner track1. Start driving your own career rather than expecting your firm to

If you’re thinking like a partner (which you should be), you should know that it is your responsibility to develop yourself. If you think it’s your firm’s responsibility to develop you, then you’re wrong. How can they know what you really want and need?

If you want to know how to get put on the partner track, you need to start by not relying on your firm for your own development. If you do this, you’re putting yourself at risk by giving the firm control of whether you progress or not. And spoiler alert, the firm is pretty busy so your career progression isn’t going to be their first priority.

To ensure that you are put on the partner track, start investing in yourself. Get in the driving seat and move your career forward yourself. Create a career plan and USE it to guide your personal development and to keep you on your professional path. Don’t hold on to the end result and prioritise the activities you need to do to demonstrate you are ready for partnership.

You may not be able to control the effects of Coronavirus, but you can control your development so don’t leave it to chance. Be motivated to drive your career forward and use your career plan to steer you right.

Note to Progress to Partner members: find out what it is that you want and exactly how to create a career plan in our ‘How to truly commit to moving your career forward’ workbook.’ If you’re not already a member, you can join now 

a woman talking to a man to represent talking to your partners as a tip for how to get put on the partner track2. Talk to your partners about your future career plans

One of the best ways to get noticed for partner is to actually talk to your partners. How can they help you get to where you want to be if they don’t know what your goals are? If you’re not doing this often, then you need to start.

Your partners aren’t going to just be your boss when you get to partner, they are going to be your peers, so get an honest dialogue going. Talk to them about what you want, what makes you tick, and help them to understand what you’re trying to do and where you want to go. Share your career plan with them and be honest about the areas that need to be worked on.

If you are doing this regularly – and you’re approaching your partners with an attitude of “this is what I’m aiming to do to help build this business” – then this is when stuff really starts to happen. You will get noticed and your partners will be wanting to have these ‘we‘ conversations with you.

Tip: if you feel that the partners are just going through the motions in their conversations with you (e.g. they are going through a tick box exercise for HR), it probably means that your business case isn’t commercial enough. They need to be emotionally invested in your business case to invest this time with you. 

Read: Create a cast-iron business case for partnership: your definitive guide

a woman running up stairs to represent being active as a tip for how to get put on the partner track3. Start being active with business development

How to get put on the partner track isn’t just about getting noticed, it’s about putting your money where your mouth is. By money, I mean, winning new business. The biggest thing that holds so many great lawyers, accountants, and consultants from progressing their career is knowing how to find the time for business development. As you can imagine, the best way to therefore stand out is to really start nailing this process down ASAP.

We all have busy day jobs and it’s easy to get bogged down in these daily activities, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have time for business development. In fact, we can always make time, it’s just about scheduling it into the calendar and actually doing it.

You won’t get on the partner track just by working harder and longer hours. You need to start working smarter by prioritising the right tasks. The tasks that will help you to win business and show your partners that you are ‘partner-material.’

Note to Progress to Partner members: if you need help with choosing your clients, building your network or with any other business development activity, work your way through the steps in ‘The Go-To Expert’ workbook. If you’re not a member and you’re wondering “how on earth do I win my next client?” you can get access to all our self-study courses, workbooks, recordings and guides when you’re a Progress to Partner member.


two lego figures to represent working with a partner as a tip for how to get put on the partner track4. Work with an influential partner as your mentor

Finally, if you want to get noticed for partner and ace the partnership admissions process, you need to have advocates and influential people to help you. All leaders have a support network, a war cabinet to offer wisdom and advice, so think about who you need on your side to get to where you want to go.

It is really important that you build a network within the firm, particularly with an influential partner as your mentor, so pick a mentor who has the right level of influence to help you progress. Once you’ve chosen your mentor, make sure you have regular face time with them, that you’re open and honest when communicating your motives and desires, and involve them in your career planning. Their advice could be the difference between you making partner or not so choose wisely, evaluate their advice, and make this relationship count.


Get noticed and on the road to making partner

Don’t get overwhelmed! Don’t just o nothing and leave your career to chance. If you use this time to take control of your own development, you’ll soon see that your career will progress in the right direction.

If you focus on nothing other than driving your own development, talking to your partners about your future plans, your business development, and working with an influential partner as your mentor, you are only increasing your chances of getting noticed for partner. This is how to get put on the partner track.

For more on Acing the Partnership Admissions Process:

Join our Progress To Partner membership site. The whole of the recording is in the membership site.

If you listen to the whole of the virtual masterclass you will learn:

  1. An understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on partnership numbers and how to raise your game to make it to partner in the next few years.
  2. The 6 common mistakes people make on the partnership admissions process and why these often scupper their chances of making partner.
  3. The 6 common elements of the partnership admissions process, and what you need to personally do to pass each element (and how this differs between the Big 4 firms, law firms and mid-tier firms).
  4. What your partners are really looking for in their future partners (Hint: it’s nothing to do with your chargeable time figures).
  5. How to get noticed for the right reasons and get put on the long list for partner track.
  6. How to create the time to be at your best as you go through the partnership admissions process (and also take the heavy lifting out of preparing for each step of the process).

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