Tips for becoming Partner at a law firm

September 14, 2018

At most law firms in Calgary and across Canada, it can take upwards of ten years to make partner. In some cases, firms have implemented a two-tier partnership system: the first stage being non-equity or income partnership (which we legal recruiters generally see between the five to seven year call range), followed by the second stage known as equity or full partnership around the 10-year mark.

The fact is, few articling students hired on as associates eventually get invited to their law firm’s partnership track and some associates simply don’t want to become partner at all.

There are a few steps that will help you climb the ladder from associate to partner – if that is your preferred path.

First, you should learn how partnership decisions are made at your firm and to develop a career plan for yourself. Here are some areas you should consider when developing your legal career plan to make partner:

  • Do you need to specialize in a specific practice area?
  • Do you have the ability to attract and retain clients?
  • Do you have a proven record of billing and collecting on your hours?

For tips on creating your legal career plan, check out this blog post on conscious career planning.

Another tip for climbing the partnership ladder is to invest in a mentor – as soon as possible. Look for someone who is a senior lawyer practicing in an area you are interested in who will be able to show you the ropes. A mentor is often someone you can connect with not only on a professional level but also on a personal level as well. Scheduling regular meetings before work, lunch every other week, or going for drinks can go a long way in developing your mentor relationship. The idea is to talk about your practice, who you are getting work from, which partners are key players and other firm related activities.

Lastly, learn how to market your self and build your business development skills. Networking goes a long way to helping you build relationships, and if you are able to showcase that you are building your profile and becoming an expert in your field then you should be well on your way.

If you have questions about your legal career or would like to explore your options in the market, contact me below for a confidential discussion.

The Counsel Network specializes in lawyer recruitment and has successfully placed associates across Canada.

Akash Bir, Director


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