Your client billables are outstanding. You continue to watch your utilisation rate soar. You have well and truly dedicated years to your firm in the pursuit of realising those partnership dreams. You continue to exploit business development strategies at every opportunity. You are liked and respected by clients, peers and referrers. You manage junior team members and are heavily depended upon by your superiors. Your technical knowledge is excellent and your experience is outstanding. But, every time you push at that partnership door, you are met with what seems like perpetually changing targets and hurdles. Sound familiar?
Here are four sure fire signs to know if you really are on your firm’s partnership radar:
- High Profile Deals/Cases: are your superiors giving you first class, top quality, exposure? If so, this is an encouraging and reliable sign that your senior colleagues trust you, and importantly, depend on you. Senior team members, namely partners, tend to only give this high quality work to team members they don’t want to lose. The more fulfilled and stimulated you are, the less chance you have of speaking to people like me. But, if you feel that the work and experience you’re getting isn’t of the calibre and quality you deserve, look around you. Who is getting first dibs at this work and why? Unconscious bias and favouritism remain alive and kicking in the work place and it remains a chronic and acute problem in law firms.
- Visibility: what involvement, and opportunity, do you get with key clients of the firm? How many lunches, dinners and pitches are you invited to? If it’s many, this is a good indication that your firm trusts you with clients and considers you a key client contact; both of which are vital ingredients for any partnership promotion plan. If, however, you’re not getting enough of this type of exposure and visibility and feel frequently left behind or that you’re having to go to great lengths to be heard and seen, take a look around you. Who is getting involved with these sorts of client interactions and why? Visibility departmentally, cross-departmentally, and in your practice sector is vital to anyone wanting to make their partnership promotion more than just a pipe dream. This applies equally to enhancing your profile and visibility in legal directories, particularly the Legal 500, Chambers & Partners and, sector specific guides. Partners will always support any serious partner candidate in this regard.
- Autonomy: the ability to work autonomously, at a PQE-appropriate level, is an integral part of any lawyer’s partnership journey. Every partner will have a different work style ranging from laissez-faire and unavailable to suffocatingly pedantic, the latter of which can make even the best lawyers feel useless; we’ve all been there. But, it’s crucial you manage your superiors style in a way that allows you to develop and learn whilst having sufficient independence to exercise your judgement free of anxiety and insecurity. Micromanagers are the number one killers of confidence in the work place. Without confidence you’ll never achieve your partnership goals.
- Lateral Hires: there are many reasons why firms hire lateral partners. Some are opportunistic, others strategic. How these senior, time consuming and expensive external hires impact your career trajectory is an important consideration and information you’re entitled to. Budget, business case, and capacity are all compelling considerations why you should be ‘made up’ to partner. With each external partner hire the harder it will become for you to satisfy these considerations and your firm’s partnership that it is the right time for you to be promoted. Keep a very close ear to the ground in these circumstances and don’t be afraid to ask your head(s) of team what plans they have to hire partners laterally and to what extent will such a recruit impact upon your partner prospects.
At Mimoza Fleur we specialise in moving senior-juniors (legal directors, counsel and senior associates) into partner roles in a limited number of practice sectors. If any of what this article discusses resonates with you, please get in touch for a confidential conversation about how we can help, collaborate and what opportunities we might be able to bring to you.