What makes a lawyer valuable enough to make partner these days? Of course having a significant amount of business is a major criteria for consideration in order to be elevated to equity partner. But Am Law 100 firms to small local firms all seem to agree that there are other contributions lawyers can deliver to make them an “A” player at their firms; a position that is valued quite highly. There seems to be a shift in law firm management strategy to make certain no attorney is blindsided by what it takes to be invited to stay.
Today making partner or obtaining a permanent spot at a firm may require bringing other types of value such as:
- Do you approach the practice of law as a contributor to your firm? Perhaps you are the person partners turn to in order to resolve internal disputes or even disputes with clients.
- Are you that attorney who helps to build your firm’s internal culture within the firm and also with individual associates and partners?
- Do you take on the role of the firm’s GC or handle internal labor and HR issues?
- Are you the attorney who spontaneously mentors associates in both the practice of law and/or in growing their book of business?
- Are you the lawyer who is simply indispensable to your firm because of who you are, what you do and what you contribute?
The members of our Orange County Managing Partner Roundtable reported at our November meeting that they are having frank and clear conversations with associates early on as to what it will take to be made partner or to even be offered a permanent Senior Attorney position. No longer are most firms waiting until an associate is in their fifth year to start to train them in attorney development skills.
The cards about what makes an attorney valuable to a firm now seem to be laid out early on so there are no surprises.