Become a partner | The bar

Consider a partnership

There are over 27,000 partners in private practice in England and Wales, made up of employees and partners.

The linear career that leads to partnership isn’t for everyone, with some leaning towards alternatives such as portfolio careers and consulting work.

However, there are those for whom becoming a partner remains a lifelong ambition, the pinnacle that indicates success in their career.

People will feel ready to move into a partnership at different stages of their career.

The time it takes you to become a partner will depend on the structure within the firm and your abilities. The average is 10 years after qualification.

If your vision for career progression involves reaching a partnership, it’s a good idea to have internal discussions to make your career ambitions known.

The initial discussions will help you in your preparation to understand the requirements of the business. Securing a partnership takes planning: don’t wait to start planning when you’re a senior partner.

Partnership brings with it increased recognition and reward. However, you should be aware that these rewards come with risks.

Make sure you understand the potential implications and have discussed the pros and cons when deciding if the partnership is right for you.

Seek legal advice, talk to partners and other lawyers to ensure you have a realistic understanding, ask the right questions and have the right information before making a decision.

Top tips for securing a partnership

Understand the requirements

If you are seeking a partnership, it is important that you fully understand the company’s internal partnership process.

Understanding partner requirements, business plans, needs, and the different partnership models and layers will help you chart your path to partnership.

Use this knowledge to better understand how to develop your business case and present yourself for a partnership.

stand out

Develop your personal brand. Start cementing your value early to prepare for the role.

Make yourself known: be recognized for going beyond expectations.

Strive to exceed goals, but it’s not just about exceeding billable goals. Make yourself known as a safe and reliable interlocutor, both with customers and among your peers. Be a good corporate ambassador.

Showcase your exceptional skills and abilities. Develop your skills to be able to demonstrate that you have the skills required of partners:

  • leadership
  • management
  • industry awareness
  • Business development
  • Financial direction

Also consider desired soft skills such as:

  • empathy
  • open-mindedness
  • be a team player
  • contextual intelligence

Learn more about the skills you need to become a successful partner

Network

From the start, you should work on building a professional network.

Maintaining strong professional relationships is important, retaining existing clients and securing new business is highly valued.

The importance of networking in attracting business is widely debated, but does not come naturally to everyone. You can find advice on networking at:

Discover the basics of networking

Discover five business development strategies without networking

Explore the zero network approach to business development

What to expect as a partner?

Nowadays, there are different types of partnerships depending on the structure of a business.

The roles, responsibilities and expectations of associates also vary from company to company depending on size, location and management structure.

Typically, partner responsibilities include:

  • define/manage the company’s strategy
  • maintain and develop the client portfolio
  • financial management/profitable growth
  • support and develop staff

If you’re considering a partnership, be proactive and don’t expect to be noticed if you don’t actively raise your profile.

If you are offered a partnership, consider the options carefully.