Many a senior associate and junior partner has come a cropper by failing to realise how the goal posts change when you finally get partner on your business card. In this blog post, we talk about how to make partner in a Magic Circle law firm by examining how the role of a partner in a Magic Circle Law Firm is intrinsically different than a senior associate role.

What is the role of a partner in a Magic Circle Law Firm?

Here is an extract from Chapter 14 of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ that succinctly explains the key responsibilities of a partner. (These are pretty much the same whether you are in a law, accountancy or consultancy firm) You are now responsible for the performance of your part of the firm. The full equity partners within a department are responsible for the overall performance and financial performance of their practice department. As a partner, you are responsible for delivering your agreed personal financial targets. As partner, you will ultimately be measured and rewarded based on your practice department’s financial performance and against the other key performance indicators, which your firm deems are important to the profitability and long-term sustainability of the practice. Your key responsibilities as partner are:

  • Winning work from existing and new clients
  • Leading and managing employees within the practice to achieve the firm’s strategic objectives
  • Agreeing and delivering the strategic goals for your practice department.

Partners are expected to be able to ‘feed’ themselves – i.e. generate all their own work and work for the people in their part of the practice. This may be from an inherited client portfolio or a portfolio personally built up over time. In short, it is the partner’s responsibility to bring in the work, make sure it is done at the agreed price, billed and paid at a profit. In summary, successful partners will be able to typically do 4 things:

  • Build and lead a team of people and delegate work down to them
  • Win work from new and existing clients
  • Deliver great client service
  • Act as an owner of the business, and take decisions to safeguard the long-term prosperity of the firm

The key differences between a senior associate and partner

I think probably the biggest difference is that as a partner in a Magic Circle Law Firm (as well as any other type of firm) you are now expected to be a role model for others in the business. This means you need to put your own personal agenda aside and always consider what is the right thing for the firm. After the mindset shift which needs to happen to be successful as a partner in a Magic Circle Law Firm, you need to bring in your own work FAST. There is a tacit agreement in most firms, not just the Magic Circle Law Firms, that when you have partner on your business card, you are on your own. You will need to be able to stand on your own two feet and develop your own sources of work. Of course, as a senior associate, you can still rely on being fed work to do, and delegate down to others. As a senior associate you may find that occasionally you need to stand in for partners, and may be asked to take on some management responsibilities for your department. When you get to partner level, to be frank, you are the partner! You will be expected to develop the team beneath you AND hit your billable time targets. Unlike accountancy firms, partners in Magic Circle Law Firms almost always still have a billable time target to hit.  

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