Making Partner Is No Party

July 27, 2016

Attorneys seem to have this strange idea when first starting out that becoming a partner will take away all their worries and troubles. The stresses after making partner are just as real as they were as an associate. Some even claim that the stress is greater after making partner at a major law firm.

Partners are still expected to reach a high amount of billable hours. They can get the work from other partners in the firm or from clients. When a partner turns in a year with low billable hours, they can be exposed to being fired.

The pressure to generate business never ends. Partners can never rely on the firm or other partners for work so they need to be doing all they can to bring in work themselves. Smart partners will spend a few hours each week cold calling potential clients to get new work.

Once a partner generates business, they have to find a way to maintain it. If they let their business fall, they may be exposing themselves to a big pay cut. Quite often partners develop personal relationships with the general counsel of their client so if the client gets a new general counsel, the partner has to start over to build the relationship and trust again.

See Successful Actors and Attorneys Are Very Alike.

The pressure to bring in more work, build upon that work, help others in the firm bring in work, bring in enough work to share, collect bills, accept a smaller paycheck, recruit, and then look good on top of all the stress are endless. Law firm partners are expected to be active in their communities serving in volunteer and other leadership roles.

There are more pressures than most realize and especially more than an associate has to deal with. Making partner is still a big accomplishment that is not an easy task but sadly the work required to get to that point does not disappear.

Chicago skyline from the beach
  • “The decision to leave my former firm was difficult, but the thought of conducting a job search in Chicago while continuing to practice in Indianapolis was simply overwhelming. Fortunately, I was referred to Alan Rubenstein by a friend. Alan’s knowledge of the Chicago legal market and the different cultures within various law firms was invaluable. The information and resources Alan provided gave me a competitive advantage and allowed me to negotiate a superior arrangement, but most importantly, he helped me select the firm best suited for my personal and professional goals. I have since referred several of my friends to Alan and they have each had equally rewarding experiences.”

    Robert T. Buday, Partner

    Latham & Watkins