Many associates look at the stats and think that the chances of partnership are an insignificant percentage of minuscule at best. While this may be true, someone has to make partner. So, what is the difference between them and you? Put simply, candidates who have made partner most likely have been making the right moves from the very beginning of their law career. Here are 5 foolproof ways that you can do the same, positioning yourself for the partnership track from the get-go.
#1 Seek a position or opportunities to gain experience and develop your legal expertise
As they say, “there’s no substitute for experience.” Many law firms require a track record for business generation or associated skills and abilities that show that you can create new business opportunities, and of course, sound legal expertise is often needed to do this well. To position yourself for the partnership track from the get-go, make sure to look into what firm and what roles will allow you to gain experience and grow the most. Size of the firm is often key: you want one that is sizeable enough that it has significant support staff so that you won’t be relegated to paralegal work, but not so large that other associates make it difficult for you to get real hands-on experience.
#2 Know your strengths and develop a strong all-round skillset
A great lawyer who would be considered for partnership track demonstrates an impeccable skillset consisting of oral, written and communication skills as well as business development, leadership and client relationship management skills. While it’s essential that you build on your weaknesses to develop a strong core skillset, playing to your strengths is just as important. Is communication your superpower? Continue to construct and deliver valuable and unforgettable presentations at conferences, sell yourself to your clients and attorneys to develop strong relationships and become the go-to-expert in your niche.
#3 Switch to having a revenue-generation mentality
It can be hard to change your mindset, but once you do, you will be in the front seat position for the partnership track. Many associates have the mentality of just getting their work done and servicing their clients, which of course, is absolutely essential; what actually makes them considered for partner though, is having a revenue-generation mentality at the same time. A revenue-generation mentality is thinking “I must service my clients AND generate new business that brings in more revenue than what I am paid.” Only when you have this mindset can you start becoming a serious asset to your firm and be seen as a serious candidate for partner.
#4 Build a solid personal and professional brand
Another way you can position yourself for the partnership track right from the beginning of your law career is to focus on your brand. You have to look and act the part to become partner, so think about how best to present yourself in all aspects of your professional life. Think about what areas of your life may influence the first impression that you make with clients and make sure that they are giving off a professional and confident vibe. These can be areas such as the way you dress, the way you carry yourself in meetings, your voicemail greeting, your web bio, and your social media profile and presence.
#5 Understand firm politics and make sure it’s right for you
Regardless of whether you like politics, they are present in law firms just as in any other business and understanding them is key to positioning yourself for partner. Make sure to find out the structure in your firm and the distribution of power within partnership ranks. Does your firm operate its practices in clearly defined silos or do they collaborate and share credit giving equal exposure of associates to all partners? Who will you be working with? Which “power centres” will be behind you when its time to seek support for your partnership bid? If you think about all these factors in advance, you can then put yourself in the best position as you work up the ranks to be considered for the partnership track down the line.
Be mindful of how present actions impact the future
One of the biggest mistakes, if not THE biggest mistake, that associates make when it comes to going for partner at their firm, is waiting or assuming that they’ll be considered for partnership. With so many candidates gunning for that same position, you can’t afford to do that, you have to stand out. By using the points above, you need to start positioning yourself to be considered for the partnership track from the very beginning of your career otherwise it’s not very likely that you’ll make it to where you want to be.
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