Making partner, especially in big law will never go out of style as an ultimate prize for young lawyers. However, this hinges on one’s ability to sell oneself as an individual. This means that you are a business selling yourself to the firm’s existing partnership, convincing them that you will increase the firm’s profitability. It is therefore important to develop a track record of both. Here are a few tips which will set you out as a partner material.
Firms want to know what you can bring to the table, and this includes your network and net worth. What this means is that it is important to know people but how do these people translate to increasing your net worth and that of the company? Start now by increasing your network to people who would trust you and your firm to provide legal services. A partner candidate should aim to become a significant business asset by producing outstanding substantive legal work and maintaining positive relationships with people both inside and outside the firm, in addition to continuing to hone soft skills.
Wider exposure to the industry through events, functions, social media networking as well as old university contacts, gives you a plethora of opportunities to forge a strong professional network and accelerate your progression in the field. Lawyers can unfortunately become indoctrinated in their own firm, so it is helpful to seek advice from sources outside of the firm.
Bringing in your own work by winning new clients and winning new work from pre-existing clients. Having a strong focus on your and the firm’s financial goals and building up contacts within key industries is likely to help sway partnership decisions, especially in tough economic conditions and a competitive market.
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Know your work/Develop expertise
Developing and marketing a niche or even sub-niche expertise within an area of law, and is an important step towards making partner. Keeping an eye on industry developments can allow you to specialise in future high-demand areas of the legal profession. Look at areas that current partners have carved out for themselves and figure out what is missing. Look out for particular legal questions that nobody in your firm is really an expert in as this could be an area where you could shine. Although big, high-profile cases may seem prestigious, working on those cases may not typically do anything to help you differentiate yourself from the other associates. Instead, take on smaller, niche cases that turn on a small matter of legal interpretation. Also try to get additional certifications in your niche, if available, as this can enhance your reputation as an expert in that particular area of law
Managing business relationships is an essential quality in a potential partner. Any interaction with clients should be treated with the best efforts. Promptness, accountability, and effective counselling are salient qualities which lawyers should have. As a young lawyer, you can shine, keeping clients happy and improving work efficiency, by being active in handling cases. Building relationships internally is important as well. Becoming a familiar face around the firm and promoting your image as a can-do person will open doors and give you an opportunity to find out how things really work and how decisions are really made. Moreover, organising some of your own client events and winning new work, as a result, will get you noticed and earn you those much-needed brownie points.
It is important to have this in mind when planning towards making a partner. Secondment opportunities with major existing clients of the firm to showcase your effective legal skills and business acumen improves chances of making partner. Also, secondments in the industry are a good way to build a better network of contacts for the firm as well as gain commercial experience. Secondments can benefit both the firm and the individual as a means of developing good business relationships and enhancing skills. They can also offer a lawyer valuable career development opportunities, with the chance of making new contacts and gaining experience.