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What does it take to become a law firm partner?

What does it take to become a law firm partner?

By John Castello

Appointments Workplace 


On the road to partnership there are key factors consistent across most firms. We are often asked by lawyers about what firms look for when they consider candidates for partnership. We have found that each firm has its own set of criteria for promoting people to partnership, however there are five key factors that are consistent among most firms. Excellent technical ability You will need a history of results to demonstrate you have the legal experience and technical ability to always deliver for the firm’s clients. Be able to offer a high level of service to existing clients Firms will look to promote those lawyers who go above and beyond to deliver high levels of service and the best results for the firm’s existing clients. In addition to being available for clients, those lawyers who have developed deep trusted relationships with existing clients will be looked on favourably for partnership. Be able to introduce new clients to the firm The law is changing such that business development and relationship building skills are critical skills. It will be expected that as a partner you are doing the extra work to introduce new clients to the firm. This will include networking and meeting potential new clients on a continuous basis, as well as doing other activities such as video blogs, podcasts and whitepapers, or being a guest speaker at events or running free workshops for potential new clients. Firms are tracking these activities and results, and analysing the number of new clients a partner has introduced to the firm each year. Be a contributor to advancing the firm’s internal culture This is an important factor, and often underestimated. Just because you are a rainmaker for generating clients or are technically brilliant, it does not mean that you can be a detriment or negative contributor to the firm’s culture and be promoted or brought into the partnership. Firms understand the importance of culture and building a high performing and happy work environment for their people and they will not sacrifice this for one individual. Your personal leadership style will also be very important in contributing to the firm’s culture, as you will be responsible for leading and mentoring junior lawyers. Firms will promote those lawyers who can lead and contribute positively to building a winning team. Be a brand ambassador It would be expected that any partner is a brand ambassador for the firm, always promoting its services and people, and representing its brand proudly and professionally. If you are able to achieve these five factors at a very high level you will ultimately become a valuable asset to the firm, and that is when you will be able to make a very strong case for partnership and other firms will be pursuing you to join them. John Castello is a director at Gatehouse Legal Recruitment.

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