So you’re now officially a partner in your law firm. Congratulations! The moment you’ve dreamt of since your first days as an associate has finally arrived. Now you can allow yourself a brief moment of gloating and even a pat on the back until reality begins to sink in and you are faced with that startling thought: What do I do now??!!
Don’t panic! While the change in title may have happened overnight, the respect, trust and value you bring to your firm has been earned over the last several years. In truth, you have demonstrated that you have the comprehension, commitment and knowledge to handle yourself as a partner. Still, it can be a bit overwhelming to understand exactly how this title change will affect your day-to-day work and what steps you need to take to ensure your practice matches your newly elevated status.
It’s easy to believe that your life will become easier once you are a partner; that all those long days at the office and working weekends as an associate will suddenly come to an end. The truth is, new partners should be prepared for plenty of hard work, as their responsibilities have actually just increased.
Those years working as an associate were all about developing legal skills and billing as many hours as possible. Now, as a partner, you are not only expected to produce excellent work for your clients, but also to build your firm’s client base, mentor associates and be involved with the business activities of your firm. In many ways, becoming a partner means the hard work has just begun!
You Are the Face of the Firm – Get Used to It!
One thing that can come as quite a shock to a new partner is the fact that they now officially represent the firm to the public. This includes associates and other staff of the firm looking for leadership as well as those vital potential and existing clients. What you do and say now as a partner reflects the views and position of your firm in a much more influential manner than as an associate.
It becomes very important that you learn as much as you can about the strategies of your firm so that you play your role in its success. It’s time for you to hone your leadership skills and become involved more intimately with the business aspects of your firm. Find your niche and become an effective and invaluable partner.
A Change in the Way You Are Paid
These days, it’s common for law firms to have more than one tier of partners.Some firms begin with promoting an associate to a non-equity partner status first, giving them time to demonstrate their ability and readiness for equity partnership. This can be a helpful step in a slower transition from as associate to a partner; one that doesn’t have an immediate impact on finances, but still allows for the new partner to grow.
An equity partner on the other hand, is one that shares directly in the profits of the firm. Your compensation is now directly linked to your contributions both financial and administrative. In some firms, equity partners are now responsible for paying for their own healthcare and other benefits. It is not unwise for an equity partner to brush up on their accounting skills so they are able to understand the business side of their firm.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Heard
As a new partner in your law firm, you can promote both yourself and your firm by regularly writing articles, giving speeches and participating in other firm activities. It’s important that you work to establish your personal brand within your firm early on so that other partners are aware of your skills and capabilities. This will help other partners gain confidence in you as they recommend or cross-sell your services to their clients.
Of course it never hurts for you to take the initiative and begin talking to your clients about other services offered by other partners in your firm. You’ll be building a valuable relationship of trust that will serve you well down the road.