Law School Discussion

Law Students => Job Search => Topic started by: typycal on May 16, 2008, 09:29:01 PM

Title: Criteria for making partner
Post by: typycal on May 16, 2008, 09:29:01 PM
what criteria do law firms often use to determine who will make partner?  i'd assume it would be successful work for the firm as an associate, but is there anything else of major significance?
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: nealric on May 17, 2008, 11:08:36 PM
#1. Bringing in new business
#2. Firm politics
#3. Being in the right place at the right time (i.e. being up for partner when new partners are needed)
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: Blondie918 on May 20, 2008, 05:24:36 AM
At the firm I work you have to have worked with the firm for 5 years, you have to have met your billable requirements for those 5 years (associates bill 1950 hrs/yr, and you have to be voted in by the BOD.
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: themanwithnoname on May 20, 2008, 08:08:30 PM
#1. Bringing in new business
#2. Firm politics
#3. Being in the right place at the right time (i.e. being up for partner when new partners are needed)


as far as I can tell, 1 is not true at many places. The bigger, older firms rely on established client relationships far more than they do on new clients. of course, bringing in new clients is important but that is often work done by senior partners. There are many cases I worked on where senior partners brought in cases and let junior partners do most of the work.
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: jacy85 on May 21, 2008, 04:14:19 AM
#1. Bringing in new business
#2. Firm politics
#3. Being in the right place at the right time (i.e. being up for partner when new partners are needed)


This has been true for the few big firms I've worked at.

I'd put more emphasis on #2 and #3.  And occasionally #1 is changed to something along the lines of being a big name in your field.  Partners really seem to serve 2 functions:  one is to bring in new biz, and one is to add to the firm's reputation.  So some people make partner based on their rainmaking abilities, and some make partner based on the name they've made for themselves as a bad-ass litigator or whatever (although this seems to be more difficult now, as associates more and more are chained to their desks while the partners go to court; yet another example of how law firms, as businesses, are terribly run.)
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: Connelly on May 21, 2008, 06:18:13 AM
If you owned your own business, at what point would you let someone working for you become a partner and share in your profits?  The decisions of partners to let associates move up to their ranks seems kind when coming at it from their perspective. 
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: nealric on May 21, 2008, 07:34:26 AM
Quote
as far as I can tell, 1 is not true at many places. The bigger, older firms rely on established client relationships far more than they do on new clients. of course, bringing in new clients is important but that is often work done by senior partners.

Sure, people make partner without a book of business. However, if you bring in a boatload of business, you will almost certainly make partner. The firm knows that othwerwise you will leave and take business elsewhere.
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: Bulldog86 on May 21, 2008, 12:11:12 PM
#1. Bringing in new business
#2. Firm politics
#3. Being in the right place at the right time (i.e. being up for partner when new partners are needed)


This has been true for the few big firms I've worked at.

I'd put more emphasis on #2 and #3.  And occasionally #1 is changed to something along the lines of being a big name in your field.  Partners really seem to serve 2 functions:  one is to bring in new biz, and one is to add to the firm's reputation.  So some people make partner based on their rainmaking abilities, and some make partner based on the name they've made for themselves as a bad-ass litigator or whatever (although this seems to be more difficult now, as associates more and more are chained to their desks while the partners go to court; yet another example of how law firms, as businesses, are terribly run.)

Maybe this should be a new thread, but (how) can transactional lawyers build a strong reputation?
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: jacy85 on May 21, 2008, 01:51:23 PM
I'm not sure, to be honest, as I've never been remotely interested in transactional work.  But if I had to guess, I'd say it's successfully managing and completely significant deals, getting good results for your clients, and building a good reputation.  Or you could find a niche not only w/ your practice, but also try to publish as much as you can everywhere you can (I'm thinking something like franchise).

But, since that's just a guess, don't take my word for it!
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: themanwithnoname on May 22, 2008, 06:52:45 AM
Quote
as far as I can tell, 1 is not true at many places. The bigger, older firms rely on established client relationships far more than they do on new clients. of course, bringing in new clients is important but that is often work done by senior partners.

Sure, people make partner without a book of business. However, if you bring in a boatload of business, you will almost certainly make partner. The firm knows that othwerwise you will leave and take business elsewhere.

this depends on the kind of firm we are talking about. Small firm, sure, that works. but there is no way an associate at a big firm can bring in a boatload of business compared to the clients they already have. It is just not comparable.
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: themanwithnoname on May 22, 2008, 06:54:06 AM
#1. Bringing in new business
#2. Firm politics
#3. Being in the right place at the right time (i.e. being up for partner when new partners are needed)


This has been true for the few big firms I've worked at.

I'd put more emphasis on #2 and #3.  And occasionally #1 is changed to something along the lines of being a big name in your field.  Partners really seem to serve 2 functions:  one is to bring in new biz, and one is to add to the firm's reputation.  So some people make partner based on their rainmaking abilities, and some make partner based on the name they've made for themselves as a bad-ass litigator or whatever (although this seems to be more difficult now, as associates more and more are chained to their desks while the partners go to court; yet another example of how law firms, as businesses, are terribly run.)

Maybe this should be a new thread, but (how) can transactional lawyers build a strong reputation?

demonstrating an understanding of your client's business, being able to think strategically, strong drafting of agreements, being diligent in general. Working obscene hours.
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: nealric on May 22, 2008, 09:32:29 AM
Quote
this depends on the kind of firm we are talking about. Small firm, sure, that works. but there is no way an associate at a big firm can bring in a boatload of business compared to the clients they already have. It is just not comparable.

I disagree. While it's true that an associate at a large firm won't be making a huge dent in the firm's over all business, ability to bring in business is still a big factor for several reasons:

#1. If the associate brings in more income than (s)he costs, said associate is a net money maker for the firm. Even if that money is chump change compared to the firm's over all earnings, it makes little sense to forfiet a proven asset by not making them partner.

#2. If the associate can bring in substantial business as an associate, that points to a potential to bring in serious business down the road as a partner.

There are many large law firms where the top paid parners make 9x what lowest paid partners make. The difference between the top paid parners and the lower paid parners is almost always the amount of business they bring in. This is because one rockstar rainmaker may bring in enough business to keep 5 partners and 10 associates buisy (or more). Such a partner is far more valuable to a firm than one with nothing but technical expertise and high billable hours. However, generally speaking, if you are well-known for your expertise you will probably also bring in considerable business on that basis.
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: Matthies on May 22, 2008, 09:52:19 AM
Quote
this depends on the kind of firm we are talking about. Small firm, sure, that works. but there is no way an associate at a big firm can bring in a boatload of business compared to the clients they already have. It is just not comparable.

I disagree. While it's true that an associate at a large firm won't be making a huge dent in the firm's over all business, ability to bring in business is still a big factor for several reasons:

#1. If the associate brings in more income than (s)he costs, said associate is a net money maker for the firm. Even if that money is chump change compared to the firm's over all earnings, it makes little sense to forfiet a proven asset by not making them partner.

#2. If the associate can bring in substantial business as an associate, that points to a potential to bring in serious business down the road as a partner.

There are many large law firms where the top paid parners make 9x what lowest paid partners make. The difference between the top paid parners and the lower paid parners is almost always the amount of business they bring in. This is because one rockstar rainmaker may bring in enough business to keep 5 partners and 10 associates buisy (or more). Such a partner is far more valuable to a firm than one with nothing but technical expertise and high billable hours. However, generally speaking, if you are well-known for your expertise you will probably also bring in considerable business on that basis.

Basically been my experience (both in working for firms and having many family members who are partners). Ever want to see heads roll at a big firm, watch a rainmaking partner defect, the results are not pretty. You can be the smartest lawyer in the firm, but the ones they are really worried about leaving are the ones with the most clients, these are often, sadly, not the same person.
Title: Re: Criteria for making partner
Post by: themanwithnoname on May 22, 2008, 10:16:57 AM
Quote
this depends on the kind of firm we are talking about. Small firm, sure, that works. but there is no way an associate at a big firm can bring in a boatload of business compared to the clients they already have. It is just not comparable.

I disagree. While it's true that an associate at a large firm won't be making a huge dent in the firm's over all business, ability to bring in business is still a big factor for several reasons:

#1. If the associate brings in more income than (s)he costs, said associate is a net money maker for the firm. Even if that money is chump change compared to the firm's over all earnings, it makes little sense to forfiet a proven asset by not making them partner.

#2. If the associate can bring in substantial business as an associate, that points to a potential to bring in serious business down the road as a partner.

There are many large law firms where the top paid parners make 9x what lowest paid partners make. The difference between the top paid parners and the lower paid parners is almost always the amount of business they bring in. This is because one rockstar rainmaker may bring in enough business to keep 5 partners and 10 associates buisy (or more). Such a partner is far more valuable to a firm than one with nothing but technical expertise and high billable hours. However, generally speaking, if you are well-known for your expertise you will probably also bring in considerable business on that basis.

in response to 1) senior associates are always net money makers for the firm, whether it is from business they bring in or not. In response to 2) big firms have big clients and in many cases firms turn down cases as "too small." There is also an extensive vetting for conflicts so the kinds of cases associates can bring in are not worth doing. The issue for making partner is not whether the person makes more than they cost as associates but whether they are worth giving an equity stake to. At the firm at which I worked, I never encountered an associate working on a paying matter without a partner.