Lawyers may seem to work harder and more hours than people in other professions, but many still encounter difficulties getting on the track to ultimately becoming partners. Being a partner is more than just a title; it means you actually own a portion of the firm and are entitled to a percentage of the profits. Here are three primary ways that lawyers successfully join the partnership ranks at a firm.
First and foremost, an attorney must meet their firm’s billable hour requirements to be even considered for the partner track. The average number of hours required for associates is 2,200 per year, but attorneys hoping to be seriously considered should aim not to meet the minimum requirements but to surpass them. Meeting billable hours can be challenging for lawyers just starting out because they need to build their workload and receive work from a diverse set of cases. To be thought of as a partner candidate, a new associate should proactively seek out assignments whenever their workload starts to slow down.
Another way to become a partner is to develop a relationship with a senior partner and have that person become a mentor. This mentor will give out assignments and act as a trusted resource throughout the new associate’s career. When it comes time for formal reviews, a mentor will also provide helpful feedback and advice on the important process of soliciting feedback from other senior lawyers.
Last but not least, a significant requirement for any lawyer hoping to make partner status is to have a client base that is continually bringing in new business. The most important difference between an associate and a partner is that a partner is required to generate new clients and bring in new business.