To be honest, it wouldn't really bother me if I didn't make partner right away. The average starting salary for a lawyer is above $100,000 per year in some cities (See http://denver.bizjournals.com/denver/othercities/kansascity/stories/2007/07/02/story10.html?b=1183348800%5E1484463
What's the big deal about not making partner right away if the salary is well above $100,000 for a new associate? I grew up on an Indian Reservation with a lot of extreme poverty. I wouldn't get paranoid if I didn't make partner right away. Like other managerial/senior positions, making partner might not necessarily make someone happy either. I'll bet the extra stress and responsibilities could lead to a divorce or heart attack. I've seen that happen among business executives. The job security and salary above $100,000 would be more than enough for me because I have seen the cruelty of the engineering job market, which suffered from massive layoffs in the recession of 2001 and outsourcing of engineers to other countries (i.e. India). It's like the movie "Office Space."
However, if a minority has been an associate for a very long time (e.g. 15+ years) and had not made much progress in seniority, then that would be a cause for concern. But as long as one works hard and remains patient, then that should count for something at some law firms. My goal is to develop a niche in legal writing because technical writing has been my strength as an engineer. I routinely write documents in excess of 500 pages in length. If I learn to parlay that to legal writing, then that should help with career growth.