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The five steps to partnership

18/10/2016
Posted by: Jamie Miller

OK, not everyone wants to be a partner. But, for many solicitors, a partnership is the logical reward for the years of study and hard work that come with a commitment to the legal profession.

But what do you need to know about the partnership experience, how can you prepare for it and how can you maximise your chances of attaining it? Here are Clayton Legal’s five top tips:

Are you ready?

Long ago, perhaps when most solicitors wore pinstriped suits and hats during all their waking hours, it may have been true that admission to a partnership meant a life of clubbable lunches and rounds of golf. Those days have, unfortunately, been consigned to the rubbish bin of history. Partners now need to justify their position and reward on a daily basis. And if you are not ready for this, then perhaps you need to wait for the time when you are.

Are you in the right place?

Working for a firm and effectively being a shareholder in it are two very different experiences. This is a major financial, commercial and personal commitment so ask yourself if this really is the right environment to make it in. Do you have complete faith in the direction the firm is taking and its ability to gain and retain clients? Will you be able to get along with your partners on both a social and business level? Do believe they are not just competent lawyers but also have the commercial acumen to sustain and develop the practice? These are all questions best answered before rather than after you find yourself at the partnership table.

Have a Plan

A partnership doesn’t just fall into your lap because you have managed not to get fired. Think through and implement a strategy – a series of timed steps tailored to your target firm – your current one or one better attuned to your goals – that will bring you to the inner circle by a defined deadline.

Get and retain business

Of course you need to be a highly capable lawyer to merit entry to partnership, but now legal professionals are judged as much on their business development skills as they are on their technical ones. A masterful understanding of Rylands v Fletcher or Donoghue v Stevenson is unlikely to get you to any partnership table, and even if it did it wouldn’t keep you there very long unless you could also bring in new clients.

Play the game

Partnerships, whether we like it are not, are political environments so recognise this and act accordingly. Network, support, socialise, fit in. Remember that your potential new partners will not just be thinking how clever you are and how good you are with clients but whether you are the sort of individual they will be comfortable working with, possibly for the rest of their careers.

We are presenting at this year's Legalex Show on the skills needed for 2017 - don't miss what will be an insightful and informative presentation 

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