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How To Be A Partner In Law Firm How To Be A Partner In Law Firm

Bronze medal Reporter Adv. Aneeta Posted 17 Nov 2020
How To Be A Partner In Law Firm

Are you dreaming of the day you will be a partner at a law firm? It is a possible goal. Yet no one will say that it is an easy achievement.  

A journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step,” the Chinese sage Lao Tsu is reported to have written in the Tao Ching.

There appear to be three major pathways:

  • Join an existing partnership as a lawyer and work your way up into being a partner;
  • Start your own partnership with another attorney;
  • Be the managing partner in a partnership that includes non-legal professional investors.

This follows the observation of  Paul-Matthew Zamisky, a coach to many Internet partnerships and start-ups. He shares his experience in partnerships as follows: “Partnership can take on many forms, and there are many considerations that go into whether you should become a partner, where you want to go into partnership and what partnership holds for your career.”

The law profession has its own unique history of partnership, which goes back to the medieval guilds of Europe and other traditional forms. “Partnership” in a law practice has all the elements of any successful relationship.  

1. Join an existing partnership as a lawyer and work your way up into being a partner

This is the traditional pathway. It is well established through centuries.

The rules of the road are as follows:

  • You should make yourself valuable and likable. 
  • You should produce well researched and written work in your practice area.
  • You should possess the ability to get along with everyone easily;
  • You should be a “rainmaker”, consistently bringing in more clients and more revenue.
  • You must network, network, network, keeping your eyes open for all opportunities to find the pathway to your partnership while working as a junior lawyer.

2. Start your own partnership with another attorney

This is an alternative pathway available to a practicing lawyer who has a growing network, strong communication skills, a track record of successful practice, and enough client income to be able to invest these assets into a partnership with another attorney.

The rules of the road here are as follows:

  • You should create a new partnership with a lawyer with a different client network but of roughly the same size as the practice.
  • You have a track record of working together previously in various law cases;
  • You own the property in which the new law partnership will practice;
  • You write the partnership contract in consultation with one or more third-party senior lawyers acceptable to each of the new partners.

3. Be the managing partner in a partnership that includes non-legal professional investors

In this non-traditional but increasingly attractive option, you as the primary legal professional are also the “Managing Partner.”  To make it work:

  • You have confidence in your own decisions and like to have more, rather than less, control over the day-to-day partnership activities;
  • You have the ability to attract one or more investors;
  • You have the management skills or access to management skills;

Before you make the partnership pathway decision, make sure you understand what is being offered at each step of your path. You must know how profits are divided among partners and when it will be given.

Once you are a Partner, you have to work harder than ever. Being proactive and adopting critical business thinking will facilitate your transition to the next level.

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