Skip to main content

Becoming a Partner in a law firm

Published on: 5 Aug 2019

Becoming a Partner in a law firm

Achieving the status of Partner in a law firm is the ultimate ambition for many Lawyers and legal professionals. Along with the professional perks that come with such levels of seniority, Partners receive significantly higher salaries than Associates, while full equity Partners enjoy a share in their firm’s profits.

However, becoming a Partner in a law firm is no easy feat. With the number of prospective Partners far greater than the number of Partner positions, only the top contenders make the cut.

For Senior Associates looking to step up, we have put together this list of tips on how to become a Partner in a law firm.

  • Hit your targets - and then some

    Regardless of the rest of the tips on this list, if you are not hitting your targets you do not have a chance of making Partner. What’s more, you need to be significantly exceeding your billable hours, proving to the Partners at your firm that you are a profitable employee.

    By going that step further to exceed your targets and bring in work for your peers you will be raising your profile within the firm and ultimately sealing your position as a vital asset in the eyes of your firm’s Partners.

  • Build an expansive professional network

    For practice Lawyers, network building should not be a new activity. To make Partner in a firm you will need demonstrable referral networks which can supply not just enough work for you, but also for others in the firm.

    It is worth remembering that Litigators and Dispute Resolution Partners will usually require more referral networks than those of a non-contentious discipline.

    If you can reach the run up to Partnership with referral networks already in place you will have a relatively easier time, so the earlier you begin building your network the better.

  • Get in the Partner mindset

    Although you are not yet a Partner, it is never too early to get in the Partner mindset.

    Showcase your ability to think and act like a Partner by considering more than you do as a senior Associate. Reflect on things like leadership, management and profit & loss responsibilities within the context of your current role.

    By thinking and acting like a Partner you will develop the commercial outlook and industry awareness essential for your new role.

  • Understand your firm's Partnership route

    While it may not be an openly communicated fact, all firms will have an existing route that must be followed by prospective Partners.

    Make sure that you understand how to reach partnership within your firm by speaking with your firm’s equity Partners. Let them know your ambitions and ask for their advice on what to do to be viewed as a future Partner.

  • Develop your Partner skillset in-house

    Especially relevant for those not yet at a Senior Associate level but driven by goals of early partnership is the possibility of developing your Partner skillset with an in-house role.

    The unique in-house environment permits legal professionals to focus entirely on one ‘client’, thus providing a broad remit of tasks that allow you to develop strong commercial acumen and critical business thinking – skills that will serve you well when returning to practice to become a Partner.