Becoming a partner
There are over 27,000 partners in private practice in England and Wales made up of salaried and equity partners.
The linear career that leads to partnership is not for everyone, with some leaning towards alternatives such as portfolio careers and consultancy working.
However, there are those for who becoming a partner remains a lifetime ambition, the pinnacle that indicates success in their career.
People will feel ready to progress to partnership at different stages of their career.
How long it will take you to become a partner will depend on the structure within the firm and on your abilities. The average is 10 years post qualification.
If your career progression vision involves attaining partnership, it's a good idea to have internal discussions to make your career ambitions known.
Early discussions will help you in your preparation to understand the firm’s requirements. Securing partnership takes planning: do not wait to start your planning when you are a senior associate.
Partnership brings with it increased recognition and reward. However, you need to be mindful that there are risks that go with those rewards.
Make sure you understand the potential implications and have addressed the pros and cons when deciding whether partnership is right for you.
Seek legal guidance, speak to partners and other solicitors to ensure you have a realistic understanding, are asking the right questions and have the right information before deciding.
Top tips for securing partnership
Understand the requirements
If you are looking to secure partnership, it's important that you fully understand the firm’s internal partnership process.
Understanding what is required of partners, the business plans, needs and different partnership models and layers will help you to map your route to partnership.
Use this knowledge to best understand how to develop your business case and present yourself for partnership.
Develop your personal brand. Start cementing early on your value to set yourself up for the role.
Make yourself known: be recognised for going above and beyond expectations.
Strive to exceed targets, but it's not all about exceeding billable targets. Get known as a safe reliable set of hands, both with clients and amongst your peers. Be a good ambassador for the firm.
Showcase your exceptional skills and abilities. Build your skillset to be able to demonstrate that you have the skills required of partners:
- industry awareness
- business development
- financial management
Also consider desired soft skills such as:
- open mindedness
- being a team player
- contextual intelligence
Early on you should be working on building a professional network.
Maintaining strong professional relationships is important, retaining existing clients and securing new business is highly valued.
The importance of networking to bring in business is widely discussed but does not come naturally to everyone. You will find tips on networking at:
What to expect as a partner?
Nowadays, there are different types of partnerships depending on how a firm is structured.
The roles, responsibilities and expectations of partners also vary by firm depending on the size, location and management structure.
Generally, partner responsibilities include:
- setting/managing the firm’s strategy
- maintaining and building the client portfolio
- financial management/profitable growth
- supporting and developing staff
If you are considering partnership, be proactive and do not expect to be noticed if you are not actively raising your profile.
If offered partnership, consider the options carefully.