I regularly speak to audiences of lawyers, accountants and consultants about the challenges of making partner. In my talks I often share the ten lessons that my clients have learnt along their journeys to make partner. In this blog post I am going to share the third lesson, build a strong support team including an influential mentor.
Why do you need a support team?
Making partner is a tough ask, even for the most dedicated and talented lawyer, consultant or partner. Lets assume for a moment that you have sailed through the grunt and grind of the early years. The problem is with the professions is that every year the targets get higher and greater. You could go all out to achieve an impossible target just to be told that next year you need to hit an even more impossible target. Fail to miss the target and you could find out exactly how often your firm instigates its ‘up or out’ policy! That’s just the nature of the professions. Then, if that’s not enough insanity, you are expected to be able to grow a large client portfolio of your own, whilst still achieving your high billing targets. Given how many bright people are in the professions, you’d have thought that someone by now would have realised how daft this scenario actually is? As a senior fee earner on partner track you are expected to maintain your billing, build your own client portfolio AND take on managerial/leadership responsibilities in your firm. Given how tough this actually is, this is why you need your own support team.
Who should be in your support team?
Your support team isn’t just about the people you need for your career. It’s about the collection of people you need to support your life goals. I.e. this means people inside and out of work. A strong support team will likely contain:
- An influential firm mentor
- Your external coach
- Friends inside and out of work
- Sponsors in the firm who are vocal advocates for you and your work
- A loving life partner at home
- Potential help to run your home life, e.g. nanny, cleaner
Why the need for your mentor to be influential in your firm?
One of the times I ran my “ten lessons” talk I was asked at the end whether you needed to have an influential mentor or will any mentor do? This is the equivalent of asking whether a meal from a fast-food establishment like MacDonalds will actually give you the quality nutrients your body needs to perform at its best. Yes, it is important to have a mentor who can share their experiences and help guide and steer your career. However, an influential firm mentor can do so much more for you and your career. For example they can:
- Open doors to the people in the firm you need to have as advocates
- Give you the low down on firm politics and how to play them to the best of your abilities
- Help you get the relevant experience and exposure to progress your career
- Be your advocate behind closed doors
Making partner is a tough ask. Make your transition to partner just that little bit easier by building a strong support team around you, including an influential firm mentor.