We can give you all the advice in the world to give you the best chance of making it on the partner track (in fact, we have!), but there’s not much advice out there when it comes to not making it. What do you do when after all that you’ve been working for, you’re told that you won’t be getting on the partner track? This article gives you a few options.

Being rejected once doesn’t mean that you’re not partner material!

It can be disheartening and downright crushing to your spirits when you’re told you won’t be getting on the partner track, but you can’t let this kill your momentum when it comes to going for partner.

Just because your firm does not make you partner doesn’t mean that you don’t have what it takes!

Here are 4 things that you can do if you don’t make it.

Evaluate yourself

This is where you have to be absolutely honest with yourself and answer the question objectively – “Did I position myself well enough to be considered for partner?” It might be that you didn’t do absolutely everything that you could to get on the partner track or it might be that there were a lot of strong candidates and you were unlucky, whatever the reason, you need to look at yourself to determine where you are right now.

There are several indicators that you can evaluate to tell if you were on the right track to making partner and that is:

  • Having perfect or nearly perfect reviews.
  • Strong billable hours.
  • Strong relationships with clients, attorneys, and partners within and without your practice group.
  • An active interest in business development and the ability to generate new business.
  • Drive, ambition, and the ability to think like a partner.

Look for opportunities in-house

Working in-house can be just as, if not more challenging, than working at a Big 4 law firm, as it can involve working on dozens of deals at once without a team of junior associates or paralegals to support you. Maybe this is the challenge that you need if you don’t make it onto partner track? Evaluate each company and in-house legal department and look for opportunities that suit your needs.

Consider public service

There are plenty of exciting opportunities to explore in public service from federal prosecutor to counsel, so this could be another area that you look into if you don’t make it on to partner track. If your undergraduate degree is related to this field, such as political science, you can easily work your way up to some prestigious jobs. This can even, in turn, lead you back to partnership!

Branch out to other firms

If making partner is your ultimate goal, maybe a lateral move to another firm will be the solution for you. Lateral opportunities are easier the less senior you are as your value has diminishing returns the more senior you get, so you will be much more attractive to other firms now rather than later. If you genuinely feel that your career is hitting a dead end in the firm that you are in yet you are doing everything that you should be to make partner, look towards other firms for opportunities to get onto the partner track there instead.

It’s not the end of your career if you don’t get on the partner track

If you’re told that you won’t get on the partner track at your firm, don’t give up just yet. There are plenty of things that you can do to still achieve your goal or it could open your eyes to other opportunities much more suited to you. Whether the economy, your law firm politics or you are the reason for not getting on track to make partner, use this period to evaluate yourself, focus on building your brand and weaknesses and start looking for opportunities within or outside of your firm.