One of the most popular posts in this blog is focused on how to become a partner at a Big 4 firm. Therefore, in the second of this 2-part blog post, I thought I would turn my attention to how to make partner in a magic circle law firm (A&O, Linklaters, Slaughter & May, Freshfields, Clifford Chance) (Part 1 here)
Tell your partner that you want to make partner at a Magic Circle (A&O, Linklaters, Slaughter & May, Freshfields, Clifford Chance) Firm
It seems rather obvious this, but if you are serious about making partner at a Magic Circle law firm (i.e. A&O, Slaughter & May, Freshfields, Linklaters, Clifford Chance) then you need to tell your partners that this is what you want. Whenever I speak to people in law firms about succession, they lament the amount of good senior associates who want to actually make partner. Therefore, have the courage and speak up about your career ambitions. You may be surprised at the extra help and exposure you receive from your partner to accelerate your career to partner.
Sharpen your skills at pitching and writing tenders
Being at a Magic Circle law firm (i.e. A&O, Linklaters, Slaughter & May, Freshfields, Clifford Chance) normally means you get to work on big ticket pieces of work. Normally these types of jobs mean a competitive tender is involved. Therefore, take every opportunity to be on a pitch team and learn how to win pitches.
Start work on your business and personal case for partnership at least 24 months before you need it
With everything you need to do just to hit your billable hours targets, working on your business and personal case for partnership can often be down the bottom of your priority list. However, the sooner you start working on your business and personal case to make partner at a Magic Circle firm, (i.e. A&O, Slaughter & May, Linklaters, Freshfields, Clifford Chance) the greater the likelihood that you will be admitted at the first time of asking.
You will need to build advocates for you in the partnership across the firm, not just in your department. After all, most firms will get all of their partners to vote on who will be admitted to the partnership.
Make the time to work on your career
I know, I know, with the amount of billable hours you need to put in, the last thing you have is spare time to work on your career. However, that is what you are going to need to do if you want to make partner at a Magic Circle Law Firm. Whenever I work with future partners they always tell me that the biggest benefit of a coaching session or training course is the time out from the day job to reflect and think. In fact, when I worked with 50 future partners six months ago, the biggest action point they all took away was the need to make time to work regularly on their career. Therefore, look at your diary and pencil in at least one hour per month to work on your career.
Develop the team beneath you
It is possible to make partner without a team supporting you. However, to achieve your business plan AND your own billable targets to make the transition to equity partner, you will need a team to delegate work to. It is impossible to develop a multi-million pound client portfolio which you service purely by yourself. If you are going to have time to develop business and bill, you will need a team billing for you…
Look after yourself
Far too many good lawyers don’t make it to partner in a Magic Circle Law firm because they burn out on the way. If you are going to make it to partner you need to make sure you can work at peak performance. This means taking care of yourself and maintaining some life outside of work. (I realise that even ‘some’ life outside of work may be exceptionally difficult to carve out)
Have your own support team
All throughout these two blog posts I have been talking about how difficult it can be to make partner in a Magic Circle Law firm. You can’t do this alone! You will need to have people around you who support you in your attempt to make partner. Typically most successful partners at a Magic Circle Law firm will have these people as a minimum within their team – Nanny, Cleaner/Housekeeper, Mentor, Coach, friends outside of work and inside of work.