This week, many firms will announce who they are admitting to the partnership. If you are not one of the lucky few,  it is time to take stock of why not.  In this blog post, I explore the main reasons why people are often unsuccessful as they go through their firm’s partnership admissions process

You’ve not communicated your desire to make partner to the people who matter

If you don’t tell your partners, either through your words or actions, that you are committed to making it to partner, is it any wonder that you are not being made up this time around? The people who do make it to partner have been (quietly or otherwise) talking with the partners about what they need to do to build their skill set to be seen as suitable. (See how to tell your partners you want to make partner) They may have been having this conversation for years.

How could you start a dialogue with your partners about your future career aspirations?

Your firm has not got room for any more partners

Shhhhhh . . .  it might not be you, it may actually be your firm which is to blame. It is not unusual for a firm to reduce the number of partners it has or even pause partner admissions for a few years. This happens if the firm is going through a lean patch or is worried about the health of the economy. After all, no partnership wants to further dilute profits when there is already not enough to go around.

If your firm is in this situation, then your best bet may be to move to a different firm. (See how to make partner at a new law firm)

Your business case is not strong enough or articulated well enough

This is probably the number one reason why most people do not make it through the partnership admissions process. Either their business case is not strong enough, or they haven’t articulated it well enough. So, what do I mean by your business case? This is where you demonstrate the commercial advantage to the firm of you being made up to partner. Very often people either haven’t developed a strong or robust enough client following, or haven’t enough evidence of their credentials for partner.

Another common mistake people make is to chuck the kitchen sink into the business case, but miss out the essentials. It is not about how good you are technically. (See the 5 essentials you need to put in your business case)

You haven’t had a mentor championing you

Partnerships are all about who you know and who is championing your cause. Your mentor is probably the most important person in your support team. With the right mentor you will have someone opening doors for you and helping you meet the right people in the firm. Having a good mentor is not just about cosy chats from time to time. It is about having someone who passionately believes in you and wants to help you get onto partnership track and then through to partnership. Click here to download our free guide from the career kitbag for getting the most out of your relationship with your mentor (email required)

You are still thinking and acting like a senior employee rather than a partner

So many potential partners think that making partner is just like another promotion. However, it really isn’t. It is when you transition from a senior employee through to a business owner and decision maker. When the buck stops with you, it takes a different kind of attitude at work. Many senior professionals never quite make that transition, and this is often the reason they never make partnership. The partnership admissions process is actually a due diligence process rather than a true promotion process.

You haven’t made the time to build your personal and business case

When you have a demanding day job, it can seem like an impossible mission to build up a partner-sized client portfolio. Is it any wonder that so many great and highly gifted professionals never quite manage to take the step up? Being able to prioritise your personal development and business development is the only way in which you will make the time to build your business case for partnership. Sadly, often without an external coach keeping you accountable to your plan to build your business case and personal case, it can be very hard to get enough focus to make it to partner.