How to get Partner Ready

If you are reading this you already know that you want to make partner. The only question now is how do you prepare for it? Here are some tips:


1. Make sure you are hitting your numbers and achieving your set targets 

It does not matter whether you already think like a partner or are a good team leader if you do not have a track record for achieving KPIs and billable hours chances are people who are, will be considered first.

Here’s a tip to make sure you stay on top of your KPI’s: display them all around your work space and also make sure you understand what they are.

2. Become known as a good lawyer and team player

The greatest achievement for any lawyer is to be seen as a great lawyer by their peers. To make yourself noticed, be cordial to everyone and pay particular attention to your relationships with your clients. Be firm but not rude or condescending, it is the little things that matter.

3. Know your sector

Go above and beyond to have an intimate familiarity in the sector in which you operate. Within this sector, understand your key strengths and use these to map out your key clients and target market. In order to really resonate with this market, understand what it is that drives your clients and hone the skills you have to shape yourself as a trusted advisor and voice of authority to your clients.

4. Tell your partners that you are interested in progressing to partner

Telling your partners you are interested in progressing upwards can be intimidating, but this does not mean you should not do it. To avoid coming off as pushy or arrogant, ask the partner a couple of questions like:

  • How do you think I am performing?
  • Where can I be improving?
  • What do you think about my potential so far?

These questions will likely underscore that you are interested in progressing.

5. Know the process of how to become a partner

As the saying goes ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’. Likewise if you are planning on becoming partner learn the technical details of what is required. Some law firms provide this information on their websites and if it is not provided there visit your HR manager they will be more than happy to share with you this information.

6. Create your business case to make partner in your firm

In to make your case for partnership your argument needs to be both charming and financially convincing. When considering candidates for partnership most firms will ask you to submit a business case for partnership. Some firms will have a standards template for what they need you to prove.

7. Use Social Media!

This may seem like an unusual tip but social media has the ability to really help you stand out amongst potential partner candidates, particularly if you’re using LinkedIn to connect with the right people who may advocate for you as partner. LinkedIn also has the opportunity to create articles on – this can be a powerful tool to build a following and shape yourself as a voice of authority.

8. Get a formal structure in place

At Herbert Smith Freehills, the firm has a Potential Partner Development Centre, which is run over two years and also involves staff developing a business case for their promotion, and the Promotion to Partner Panel, which is the formal process for assessing new partners.

Ashurst runs an emerging leaders programme between September and December where senior lawyers are assisted with their business plan.

The above programmes place formal structures around the partner you aspire to be and help guide you to learning those mandatory skills. Ultimately, in order to become partner, you need buy in from others (sell others on you and your skills), your firm and your team. Programs such as these give you the confidence you need so that your first day as partner you can hit the ground running.

The most important part: 

Above all, the best piece of advice is to take complete ownership and responsibility for your development – don’t rely on others to tell you what needs to be done. A law firm is a competitive business (one of the most competitive out there). Like any business you are only worth as much as the business you bring in. As a partner you need to have a healthy portable practice, which gives a team a good and strong workflow. Therefore, be proactive, remain focused and continually take action that pushes you out of your comfort zone that is in alignment with your partner ambitions.

How can I be more like you? She asked the guru. And the guru answered: the best way to be more like me is to be more like you.
– Alan Cohen
For more information on salary trends, market updates and the general process in securing a role.
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