In summer 2016 Heather Townsend revealed the 10 lessons that every potential partner needs to learn to an audience of 200 lawyers and accountants. In this short 2 minute video clip, Heather talks through the third lesson – the importance of have a good support team around you. The road to partner is long, and it’s winding.  And despite most of us when we enter the profession thinking ‘I’m going up there, partnership!  Watch out, many of us fall by the wayside, and most of us don’t make it. This is the third in my series of 10 lessons of what I’ve learnt from my clients, about what really needs to happen for you to make partner. In my third lesson, I’m going to talk about the importance of having a good support team around you, and particularly an influential mentor. It’s tough making partner, you’ve got a demanding day job and then you’ve almost got another job on top of that, in order to get to the next stage in your career.  After all, when you’re a senior fee earner and you’ve got high billing targets, it’s difficult to then make time to grow a partner sized client portfolio, and that’s why you need a support team around you.  That support team is there to help you be the very best you can be at work.  So who tends to be in that support team? For example, you would have your sponsoring partner.  That’s the person who says:

  • ‘This person is ready for partnership’.
  • They will stake their reputation on saying ‘I think they’re ready for partnership’,
  • They are often the lead partner in your practice unit.

The next person you need is an influential firm mentor, ideally from another part of the firm.  And of course having a mentor is good, but having an influential mentor is even better.  What does this person do?

  • They share their experiences with you.
  • They guide your career, based on where they’ve been there.
  • They will show you the warts and all of what’s going on.
  • They will open doors into other parts of the firm.
  • They will be an advocate for you around the partnership table.

And don’t get me wrong, your partners will be talking around that partnership table about who is ready for partnership, who do they think will make it in the next few years.  You need to make sure more people are talking about you as ready for partnership.  That’s where an influential mentor can come in. But who else needs to be in your support team?  You need friends and family, both friends inside of work and outside of work.  You need people that will:

  • Just take you for who you are.
  • Whom you can relax with
  • You can recharge your batteries, and
  • Ultimately you can have fun with.

And lastly, you may need an element of a home team.  What do I mean by that? These are people who can take away some of the drudgery of home life in order to give you time to either be your best at work, or really enjoy and recharge your batteries outside of work.  It may be it’s your childcare options, it may be a cleaner, it’s whatever you need to have that firm, stable foundation at home so you can be the best at work. So that’s my third lesson.  Build a support team around you, in particular with an influential mentor.

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