Becoming partner is often an attorney’s career goal. Aside from the symbolic victory of overcoming the grueling hours worked to get there and prestige earned when attained, it also marks an important career shift: you are no longer an employee of the firm receiving a salary, but an employer who will increase the firm’s profitability.
Should you pursue this endeavor? Here are four considerations to help you decide:
Do you like the team you play for?
Are you satisfied with your firm’s reputation in the legal and business community? Consider how your firm stacks against others in a particular industry or industry sector, and whether you can contribute to improving or maintaining its reputation. If your particular practice enjoys a great reputation, would you feel comfortable referring your client to a colleague from another department?
Do you trust your driver?
Is your firm well managed — and are there positive indicators that it will be positively managed in the future? Look back and consider whether you consistently received adequate support from partners, associates, paralegal, support staff. Was your feedback valued and were issues resolved? Look at your physical setting and evaluate whether you are in an ecosystem where you can be productive and whether your contributions are respected and valued. Look to the future and consider not only the financial health of your firm, but also whether those behind the wheel are steering it in the right direction.
Do you like what you see?
On a personal level, does the firm’s culture, reputation, and character fit with your personal views of work, life, and service? If you are seriously considering being a partial owner of it, it should reflect your values. On a professional level, evaluate where your practice fits in with the strategic vision of the firm. If you desire greater leadership opportunities, can you realistically anticipate opportunities to contribute to departmental, practice, or firm decisions?
Do you think it’s worth it?
Consider how your firm’s compensation stacks up against other firms. How do you feel about how your firm recognizes and compensates cross-marketing services of clients? Do you feel that the firm’s policy of rewarding work received from others versus work distributed to others is fair? Are billing rates compatible with your specialty — and do you think your clients are satisfied with the billing rate?